Do-It-Yourself Memorial Day Linkfest

I hope everyone is enjoying their long holiday weekend — I have the iPod charged up, the burgers ready to for the grill, some SPF 8, and lots and lots of weekend reading.

Since the linkfest is on hiatus, here’s a fun suggestion: Use the comments to suggest your favorite link from the past 8 days (Sunday to Sunday). I’ll see if I can’t massage something together over the weekend out of them.

The rules are simple: Post the Headline, source name (in parens), a paragraph or two, and the full link. — Be sure to put the link in the space marked URL; this way, your name will be the hotlink to the article.  Those of you comfortable with HTML can use this code <a href="URL-GOES-HERE">Title</a>

The rough proportions of content should be approximately:

70%: Anything Market, Economic, Investing/Trading, Federal Reserve, Sentiment/Psychology, Earnings/Valuation, Credit/Derivative or Housing related.

20%: Technology, Science, Media, War & Defense, Politics 

10%: Music, Film, Books Fun!


Bonus points goes to those who find really cool but overlooked articles. The trade-off is content quality always trumps obscurity of source (meaning, some junk is unknown for a reason).

That’s the formula for my linkfest — let’s see if our crowd-sourcing do-it-yourself experimental fest generates anything interesting.



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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. RB commented on May 24

    Adult Entertainment Hit Hard by Gas Prices (FirstCoast News)

    The rising prices of gas, food and travel are having a major effect on the entertainment industry on Florida’s First Coast district near Jacksonville.

  2. evanesce commented on May 24

    Weddings scale back along with economy (AP story in The Honolulu Advertiser)

    The fairytale weddings that many couples have yearned for are starting to come back down to earth — leveled by everyday problems like house payments and rising gas and food bills. “Every girl dreams about their wedding day,” said Rebecca Stamilio, who braved the February chill and the crowds at Filene’s Basement’s bridal sale in Manhattan to find a gown. “But at the same time, you’re like, ‘Oh, my gosh — I could pay off this much of my mortgage.’ ”

  3. pjfny commented on May 24

    david einhorn’s (greenlight capital) speech on lehman….a must read if you want to know why the credit crisis is not over!

  4. Joe commented on May 24

    Einhorn questions Lehman’s first quarter numbers.

    “In the quarter, Lehman said it had a pretax gain of $695 million related to hard-to-value equities. In the previous four quarters, the average, unrealized gain from such holdings was $69 million.”

    “In his speech, Mr. Einhorn also questioned the values Lehman put on many other financial assets. In particular, he said Lehman hadn’t sufficiently written down $6.5 billion of complex debt securities called collateralized debt obligations, or CDOs.

    He added that these holdings were only recently disclosed, even though other banks and Wall Street firms disclosed similar holdings months ago and took massive write-downs on them.”

  5. Ironman commented on May 24

    He’s Dead, Jim!” (Political Calculations)

    We had a USB flash drive go belly up on us, and got word back that the files on the drive could not be recovered. We noted the occasion with a bit of pure silliness, with Star Trek’s Dr. McCoy delivering the official diagnosis….

    A Less Distressed U.S. Stock Market (Political Calculations)

    This post falls just a few days outside the past eight days window, but the insight hasn’t changed. Using analysis methods pioneered at Political Calculations, we evaluate the current state of the stock market as of mid-May and find that it’s just not getting worse.

  6. Joe commented on May 24

    PJFNY beat me to it so:

    More on the useless credit rating systems:,dwp_uuid=5fd271ee-61f6-11dc-bdf6-0000779fd2ac.html?nclick_check=1

    “In a time of ever shrinking returns from investments in credit at the height of a raging bull market, early versions of these highly structured and complex deals promised to pay 200 basis points – that is 2 percentage points – over Libor, or the “risk-free” rate at which banks lend to each other. And that spread came with the top-notch triple A ratings that indicate an incredibly low probability that investors could lose their money.”

  7. NancyM commented on May 24

    Tom Whipple is a retired CIA person and has a regular feature in the Falls Church News. His latest column makes an interesting point.

    Most realists watching the numbers believe that petroleum exports as opposed to production are going to go away real fast. Experience with major exporters that already have peaked – Indonesia, the UK and Mexico for example – suggests that in about 6-9 years after an exporter’s oil production peaks, they cease exporting. As Russia already is giving off peaking signals and the Saudis are not too far away, the evidence, whether we like it or not, is screaming that we will be importing a lot less oil and gasoline ten years from now than our current 12 million barrels per day.

    He goes on to discuss the creation of the “Secretary of Transition”…

  8. Stephen Falken commented on May 24

    “Index Speculators have now stockpiled, via the futures market, the equivalent of 1.1 billion barrels of petroleum, effectively adding eight times as much oil to their own stockpile as the United States has added to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve over the last five years.”

  9. Estragon commented on May 24

    The world awash in money? (Brad Setzer’s comments on this week’s The Economist article on global monetary policy)

    “The Economist reports that the average global real interest rates is negative (”global monetary policy is now at its loosest since the 1970s: the average world real interest rate is negative”) largely because of very high rates of inflation in the emerging world.”

  10. cap commented on May 24

    I am studying for Level II this weekend. Good luck to anyone taking one of the exams in 14 days!

  11. Winston Munn commented on May 24

    What is the true state of the consumer? Lots of charts to make the points.

    Cool, Clear Water (Financial Sense WrapUp)

    “….but I’m convinced that over the last few decades, increasingly the conceptual lines between real liquidity means and access to credit availability for US households has blurred. The equity line of credit has become thought of more as access to cash as opposed to what it truly represents – access to debt. We’ve often heard the term “cash-out” refi’s. Shouldn’t that really be debt-out refis? You get the point. It’s only when asset cycles turn down, as is now the case with US real estate and in good part US equities, that the true nature of liquidity stripped of the conceptual relationship to further credit availability begins to become a bit more clear. As the ability of debt driven monetization of household asset values begins to subside, the true character of liquidity means reveals itself.

    So as we look ahead and consider the financial/liquidity circumstances of US households, and ponder the trajectory of the true US and global economy post the financial market relief interlude of the moment, we need to address the question, will the current character of household liquidity lend itself to broader credit market and real world economic healing? Yes or no? Or maybe more importantly, will US households feel the need to increase their balance sheet liquidity circumstances in what has been a recent deflationary environment for their two largest asset holdings – residential real estate and common stocks? I suggest this question especially applies to the boomer generation who is necessarily going to need real liquidity in retirement years. Certainly a lot depends on employment circumstances ahead for the near retirement boomers as the real US economy continues to deal with macro credit cycle reconciliation issues near term.”

  12. Darkness commented on May 24

    Smooth take-off for Bangalore’s new airport (Hindu Business Line)

    “The new airport smoothly slipped into business on Friday night. Air India did the honours for the first landing at 10.37 p.m. AI’s Airbus A320, IC 957 with 144 passengers, took off to Singapore at 12.05 a.m. on Saturday signalling Bangalore’s smooth and historic transition to Devanahalli.”

    Having flown into the old, horrific airport last November and facing the prospect of repeating that, this is fantastic news. The fact that such a major changeover took place without a hitch is testament to Indians’ tolerance for chaos. Now all they need is some real roads…

    On the lighter side…
    The Perry Bible Fellowship gave me an hour of unparalleled, twisted entertainment today. The grim humor seems to fit the mood around here, so I thought I’d share. A few of the comics are NSFW.

  13. SRQ commented on May 24

    This is what happens when you buy an enormous & complex business over a weekend.

    “Update 3:45 AM: Alert reader Steve wrote to tell me another shoe has already dropped, and has been curiously gone largely unnoticed. JP Morgan’s option to buy the headquarters is being contested by the ground lease holder. This is a huge oversight. I can’t imagine someone at Bear didn’t know that this is the sort of thing that its acquirer would want to know, but hey, you pay a knocked-down price in haste, it’s your obligation to know what exactly you are getting. At a minimum, this is pretty embarrassing. I assume that the bank will have to pay the plaintiff to go away. Wonder if they’ll be able to avoid disclosing the amount.”

    From the naked capitalism blog.

  14. Hugh Watkins commented on May 24

    I’m not putting a favorite link but I do have a suggested topic. How do you pop an Asset Bubble? Looking back it’s apparent that Housing was in a bubble and to give credit to a lot of different people, there were many that saw that was the case. There were metrics like rent equivalence that gave us hints, plus the fact that many people would not qualify for mortgages without No Doc loans.

    Lets’ take what appears to be the next Asset Bubble: Commodities
    First off, how do you tell if it’s a Bubble? Some things like Gold should track to the strength of the Dollar, but if we take Oil how do we know if it’s a Bubble?

    Everyone points to the fact that it only costs the Arab Nations X amount per barrel to pull it out of the ground, where X is in the $20 dollar range if I remember right. Of course it only costs Apple $200 bucks or so to make a iPhone and they sell it for much more, it doesn’t matter Supply and Demand sets the price of what people will pay. Plus with Oil, there is no definitive agreement about Peak Oil, so if your economy is entirely dependent on one type of export you need to maximize the pice of it until you can build another economic model.

    Let’s limit the discussion to Oil then since it’s easiest.
    A) How do you determine if it’s a bubble?
    B) If it is a bubble how do you pop it?

  15. SRQ commented on May 24

    Here is the original story from Reuters about the ground lease troubles.

  16. Strasser commented on May 24

    Who is this person really? Thoughtless and heartless come to mind.

    “May 23, 2008 —

    “Hillary Clinton today brought up the assassination of Sen. Robert Kennedy while defending her decision to stay in the race against Barack Obama.

    “My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California…”.

  17. Strasser commented on May 24

    Who is this person really? Thoughtless and heartless come to mind.

    “May 23, 2008 —

    “Hillary Clinton today brought up the assassination of Sen. Robert Kennedy while defending her decision to stay in the race against Barack Obama.

    “My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California…”.

  18. DaveInSeattle commented on May 24

    Since energy/ethanol/peak oil/global warming is a popular topic: how much solar energy would we need to replace it? This map shows how much of the earth would have to be covered with solar panels to replace ALL of the energy used worldwide. Note: the caption says they are assuming 8% efficiency in converting to electricity. Elsewhere, wikipedia says 15% efficiency is typical for solar panels and solar hot water heaters are about 60% efficient. Thus, this map probably overstates the area required to be covered. Click here. It doesn’t look like very much needs to be covered, but as my sister says, the world is a small place, but I wouldn’t want to have to paint it.

    By my calculation, it might take two to four trillion $ to cover the 7% of AZ needed to replace ALL US energy. Details.

  19. JMH commented on May 24

    Thousands of Outdated Gas Station Pumps Can’t Sell Fuel Over $3.99

    Mom-and-pop service stations are running into a problem as gasoline marches toward $4 a gallon: Thousands of old-fashioned pumps can’t register more than $3.99 on their spinning mechanical dials.

    The pumps, throwbacks to a bygone era on the American road, are difficult and expensive to upgrade, and replacing them is often out of the question for station owners who are still just scraping by.

    Many of the same pumps can count only up to $99.99 for the total sale, preventing owners of some SUVs, vans, trucks and tractor-trailers from filling their tanks all the way.

    Hat tip to: Marginal Revolution

  20. VJ commented on May 24


    (Reuters) – The city of Vallejo, California, filed for bankruptcy on Friday … to avoid running out of money amid steep city personnel costs and sliding revenues from a housing slump. Vallejo, with more than 100,000 residents, is the first sizable city in California to file for bankruptcy.

    Although many California towns are coping with shrinking tax revenue and some of the highest home foreclosure rates in the country, they are not likely to follow Vallejo’s suit.

    (Famous last words)

    Reuters Link

  21. VJ commented on May 24

    Robert F. Kennedy Jr.: It Is A Mistake For People To Take Offense (Boston Herald)

    “It is clear from the context that Hillary was invoking a familiar political circumstance in order to support her decision to stay in the race through June. I have heard her make this reference before, also citing her husband’s 1992 race, both of which were hard fought through June. I understand how highly charged the atmosphere is, but I think it is a mistake for people to take offense.”

    Herald Link

  22. mobiaxis commented on May 24

    Reinventing Collapse – Dmitry Orlov
    In the waning days of the American empire, we find ourselves mired in political crisis, with our foreign policy coming under sharp criticism and our economy in steep decline. These trends mirror the experience of the Soviet Union in the early 1980s. Reinventing Collapse examines the circumstances of the demise of the Soviet superpower and offers clear insights into how we might prepare for coming events

  23. pmorrisonfl commented on May 24

    Mike Morgan writing on Wilbur Ross’ FT proposal…

    Mr. Ross proposes that the FHA guarantee dollar for dollar existing troubled mortgages on primary residences for each dollar forgiven by the lender. And the lender should be able to resell the guaranteed portion of its principal amount. This is absolutely ludicrous. He’s asking for a back-door bail out because he bought what he thought was a bargain. He is now acting no differently than the flippers that bought homes to flip. Instead of pre-construction condos, he bought pools of mortgages to service and flip. So please tell me why taxpayers should have any part in the bail out of Mr. Ross?

  24. pmorrisonfl commented on May 24

    Ted Talk: James Kunstler: The tragedy of suburbia

    In James Howard Kunstler’s view, public spaces should be inspired centers of civic life and the physical manifestation of the common good. Instead, he argues, what we have in America is a nation of places not worth caring about.

  25. k2163 commented on May 24

    The Real Alternative To Walking Away Is A “Back Door Cram Down”

    What’s not obvious about code section 1322 is a loan is not “secured” by your personal residence if there is no value or equity in your home that would go to the lender if the home was sold. That means the loan can be converted to unsecured status or the lien “stripped” from the house by “modifying the rights of holders of secured claims.” This turns it into unsecured debt, like credit card debt, which can be discharged!!!! This is why I call it a “Back Door” cram down because we are cramming down the second mortgage to unsecured status.

    The trick is called a “Chapter 13 Lien Strip” but I like to call it the “Back Door Cram Down.” You may have read about the proposed mortgage “Cram Down” legislation that would allow Chapter 13 judges to reduce or “Cram Down” mortgages balances to fair market value in a Chapter 13 case.

  26. David commented on May 25

    Whither the Price of Oil? – John Mauldin.

    John Mauldin addresses the debate over a supposed link between commodity index speculation and rising commodity prices. Plus, thoughts on oil prices and the current oil supply picture.

  27. Mike in Nola commented on May 25

    JPMorgan Swap Deals Spur Probe as Default Stalks Alabama County

    How Jefferson County, Alabama (Birmingham) got screwed by that knight in shining armor, J.P. Morgan, by purchasing billions in interest rate swaps. And what these deals are doing to taxpayers. In keeping with Einhorn’s thesis, the only legal action filed so far was the SEC’s suit against the county commission president for accepting a fee from JPM in the deal.

    My hope is that federal preemption does not bar a suit for fraud in state court where the county can win billions in punitive damages.

    Bloomberg had another article earlier this year of a similar situation involving a school board in Pennsylvania.

  28. Mike in Nola commented on May 25

    What courthouse hosts the most patent suits in the U.S.? You’ll be surprised.

  29. Darkness commented on May 25

    Asian governments forced to act as oil prices soar (AFP)

    “Torn between protecting the poor and saving their budgets, governments across Asia are being forced to slash fuel subsidies as world oil prices smash through 130 dollars a barrel.”

    If anything is going to pierce the mythical oil bubble it will be getting some real supply and demand influences working in the real world. Much of the world hasn’t seen this crude price run-up at the pump, at all. Once they start to, demand should finally slacken.

    (Since it’s a fest, I decided a second post wasn’t outta line…)

  30. Steve Barry commented on May 25

    Despite worst housing market maybe ever, $130 Oil, and worst credit crunch anybody alive has ever seen, the Citigroup Panic/Euphoria Model has finally broken into investor Euphoria! It really IS different this time.

  31. BigD commented on May 25

    This is an interesting article that was in Friday’s St. Louis Post Dispatch. The bulk of the article is the usual nonsense about high gas prices. However, the end of the article has an anecdotal tale of a different type, and its one that I have yet to see. Bethesda, which is a major local employer, is giving mid-year raises to help employees handle the increased cost of living. Remember that wage inflation is a necessary ingrediant in actual sustained inflation. Anecdotal? Absolutely. Meaningful? Not yet. Scary as heck? Yes…

  32. BigD commented on May 25

    This is an interesting article that was in Friday’s St. Louis Post Dispatch. The bulk of the article is the usual nonsense about high gas prices. However, the end of the article has an anecdotal tale of a different type, and its one that I have yet to see. Bethesda, which is a major local employer, is giving mid-year raises to help employees handle the increased cost of living. Remember that wage inflation is a necessary ingrediant in actual sustained inflation. Anecdotal? Absolutely. Meaningful? Not yet. Scary? Yes…

  33. VennData commented on May 25

    The Alpha Geeks By David Brooks

    Not normally a value-add critiquer, Brooks characterizes the labeling fetish here by giving a useful set of definitions once reserved for another out-of-place wingnut at the NY Times, William Safire.

    I’d second the Kunstler link above by pmorrisonfl.

  34. Joe commented on May 25

    Ted Kennedy very familiar with “grim” cancer diagnoses:

    “Kara Kennedy was sitting in a doctor’s office at Johns Hopkins Hospital with her father, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, when she got the news. Not only did she have cancer of the lung, it was inoperable. The doctor told her she might have less than a year to live.

    For Senator Kennedy, the prognosis was unacceptable. Kennedy thanked the doctor and headed out the door. Over the next several days, he feverishly immersed himself in the subject of his daughter’s cancer, and ultimately found a Boston surgeon who operated on her. Five years later, she is cancer-free and runs 5 miles a day, her mother said.”

  35. larster commented on May 25

    Great article in Newsweek on foreclosures in Cleveland. Seems the city saw it coming a few years ago and met w/the Fed. All they got was a good lunch. Makes one wonder what else we might find if we turn over a few rocks here and there.

  36. Mike in Nola commented on May 25

    “The increase in demand from index speculators is almost equal to the increase in demand from China,” Masters told the Senate panel.

    Similar content to a previous link posted, but I thought the above statement was illuminating.

  37. Why Technical Analysis Only Tells 1/2 The Story in Today’s Electronic Markets commented on May 25

    This post discuss the effects of program trading runs in the electronic futures markets.

    The jist of it is the hypothesis, that in the short-run, the majority of volatility and price change are repercussions from program trading runs.

    The post also discusses the latest generation of software algorithms that monitor program trading in the electronic futures markets.

  38. MarkD commented on May 25

    gee how bout a heads up next time so we can bookmark some stuff as we go during the week(I am presently being ordered to get away from the keyboard and come outside & eat & drink)

  39. Eric commented on May 25

    Ben Stein wrote today: “As my pal Glenn Beck, the conservative commentator says, we need a new moon-shot mentality here. We need to turn coal oil into gasoline, to use nuclear power wherever we can, and to brush aside the concerns of the beautiful people who live on coastal pastures.” First, that Beck is Stein’s “buddy” is just too perfect. I’d like very much to spit in both of their faces. Second, coal and nuclear are “moon-shots”? Idiot. Third, I’d like to reiterate my desire to spit in their faces. Believe me, it’s a far cry from what I’d really like to do to them. But I’m older and more mature now.

  40. ECONOMISTA NON GRATA commented on May 25

    In the New Yorker article,THE FALL OF CONSERVATISM, Have the Republicans run out of ideas? by George Packer, we read a concise vivid history of the rise and fall of the Republican party and their brand of conservatism. George Packer quotes from Rick Perlstein’s new narrative history “Nixonland” (Scribners).

    “Perlstein argues that the politics of “Nixonland” will endure for at least another generation. On his final page, he writes, “Do Americans not hate each other enough to fantasize about killing one another, in cold blood, over political and cultural disagreements? It would be hard to argue they do not.”

    This article has some intriguing insights and I would recommend reading the entire story.

    Best regards,


  41. SDS commented on May 25

    In a prize-winning metaphor, Russ Winter of the Winter Economic & Market Watch likens those investing in GSEs (Pimco, Foreign Central Banks) to kids putting their tongues on freezer ice. Russ thinks they’re going to get stuck…

  42. PeterR commented on May 25

    Hi Barry,

    This is off-topic per your guidelines for links from the last week, but quite on-topic IMO for a reality check. You are probably too young to know his music. Check out “Enola Gay.”


    Rest In Peace, Utah Phillips.

    A wise and gentle soul has left us.

    We will miss you.

  43. Scott commented on May 25

    A happy and thoughtful Memorial Day weekend to all. I am fortunate enough to be of an age that allowed me to experience CBGBs before it was anything much more than a dump on the Bowery. So in memorium to Joey, Dee Dee, and Johnny…and live a long life Tommy..I give you:

  44. Priscila commented on May 25

    This is not from last week, but about a book published last month:

    Infant Language and the Imperfect Human Mind (Scientific American, Mind Matters, April 23, 2008)

    Mind Matters editor Jonah Lehrer chats with Gary F. Marcus, New York University psychologist and head of the Infant Language Learning Center, about how computing, genetic biology and psychology together can help probe the wonders of human language development.

    “LEHRER: Your book ends with a series of prescriptions for helping us make better use of our imperfect mind. Is there one prescription that you think is particularly important?

    MARCUS: The most important piece of advice might be the one that says, “Don’t just set goals, make specific contingencies plans”—good advice that follows from the studies of my colleague [psychologist] Peter Gollwitzer [of New York University]. It’s important because it’s the best band-aid we’ve got for dealing with one of the more problematic kluges in our evolution: the split between a set of really ancient brain mechanisms that tend to be short-sighted and automatic and a more modern set of “deliberative” mechanisms that do their best to take the long view.”

    (Book: Kluge: The Haphazard Construction of the Human Mind)

  45. Mike in Nola commented on May 25

    What credit crunch? City bankers receive £13bn bonuses this year

    British investment moguls show themselves as venal as those in America, but with Brown in trouble, more may get done there than here.

  46. Mike in Nola commented on May 26

    George Soros: rocketing oil price is a bubble

    The headline is a bit deceptive, as the video accompanying the article cites this as one of several factors. Another interesting one is that countries with oil have less incentive to produce a resource that is appreciating in value.

    Video here: Video

  47. David commented on May 26

    How’s the linkfest holding up? Thought I’d add one more item in the area of music and film if we’re still going strong.

    For you David Bowie fans: video links to BBC’s 1975 Bowie tour doc, “Cracked Actor”.

    This jukebox post also contains a YouTube link to David Bowie’s appearance on the Dick Cavett Show in 1974. See David’s interview segments with Cavett and live performances from his then-new Philly Soul songlist.

    Good rock n’ roll fun, and quite interesting to boot.

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