"Economists are pessimists: they've predicted 8 of the last 3 depressions."
--Barry Asmus

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Friday, July 29, 2011

World News!

  • In "I thought this only happened in the cartoons" news, a RAAF airman was seriously burnt when a portable toilet exploded after he lit a cigarette while using the facilities.  The airman is in serious but stable condition.
The Oceans
  • A panel of 27 leading marine scientists have concluded that the Earth's oceans stand on the brink of a sixth great extinction due to climate change.  They cite "increasing hypoxia and anoxia, combined with warming of the ocean and acidification," which "are the three factors which have been present in every mass extinction event in Earth's history."
South Korea
United Kingdom
United States
  • In "there's nothing like watching justice prevail" news, a coalition of 50 state Attorneys General are in negotiation with Bank of America, Wells Fargo, CitiGroup, JPMorgan Chase, and Ally Financial to grant them immunity to civil lawsuits by the states over "irregularities" in how they handle forclosures[1].  The banks would be required to pay up to $25 billion in penalties and commit to follow new rules in the future.  I'm sure this will work.  They already promised to halt such practices in the past, and surely we can trust them.  This time.  Right?
  • A paper published in the journal Physical Review E demonstrates that once you hit a threshold of only 10% of a group believing an idea, that idea will begin to rapidly shift the majority opinion.  Regardless of what sort of network the opinion holders are working in, or how the idea is transmitted.
  • The cost of five-year credit default swaps on Treasury debt rose 67 bps, hitting the highest level since March 2009, on concerns about the ongoing lack of resolution for the debt ceiling.
[1]  Such as foreclosing on houses that aren't late on their mortgage payments for the simple reason that they didn't have mortgages.  Or issuing promissory notes without proof of ownership.  Or robo-signing.

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