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Empty Houses in Spain

The Spanish housing boom goes bust. "Some 65km from Madrid, in the quintessentially Spanish heart of a country riven by competing regional identities, Valdeluz – the notorious ciudad fantasma (ghost town) of the crisis – was conceived at the height of what is sometimes called Spain’s economic miracle. In a Catholic nation, whose faith has declined substantially during its three decades of democracy, there is an increasing reluctance to believe in miracles of any kind."
posted by Occam's Aftershave on Aug 6, 2014 - 37 comments

What The Poor Deserve

"When our donors met the actual people they were helping they often didn’t like them. During our Secret Santa drive, volunteers sometimes refused to drop gifts at houses with TVs inside. They got angry when clients had cell phones or in some other way didn’t match their expectations. Other times, the donations we got were too disgusting to pass along—soup cans that bulged with botulism and diapers so dry rotted they crumbled in our hands. One Thanksgiving, a board member called from the parking lot, requesting help carrying a frozen turkey from her trunk to our office. “Can you find a deserving family?” she asked. I lugged the bird up three flights of stairs. Somewhere near the top, I noticed the expiration date. It was seventeen years old." Anya Groner talks about working for Hudson Outreach in up-state New York and the sobering, chilling effect it had on her idealism.
posted by The Whelk on Jul 7, 2014 - 95 comments

A Canadian perspective on the Memphis Crisis Intervention Team model

The Walrus magazine looks into Toronto police shootings of the mentally ill and the Memphis Crisis Intervention Team model:

Memphis, one-quarter of Toronto’s size but with a homicide rate nine times higher, has developed a progressive approach to de-escalate high-tension confrontations, improve police attitudes toward those suffering from mental illness, and divert them from the criminal justice system. The Memphis Crisis Intervention Team model centres on dispatching specially trained beat cops to emergency calls as quickly as possible, and giving them the authority to take charge of the scene. That approach triggered a revolution in policing that has now been emulated in 2,700 jurisdictions across the US, including large urban centres such as Chicago and Los Angeles. A handful of Canadian cities, among them Hamilton and Vancouver, have also adopted the CIT model. While the TPS has not, senior officials claim that all of its 5,500 uniformed officers receive some training in how to handle mental illness, which makes the recent proliferation of shootings that much more perplexing.
posted by porn in the woods on Jul 3, 2014 - 11 comments

Bayakou

"The only way to end Haiti’s cholera epidemic is to keep infected waste out of food and water. A subterranean network of pipes, pumping stations, and waste-treatment plants would be the ideal solution, but Haiti’s successive governments have had too little money, power, or will to build massive public works on their own.... International donors have been little help: in one case, the U.S. government, to protest the way an election was conducted, withheld funds to build water and sanitation infrastructure in northern Haiti for more than ten years. From 1990 to 2008, the proportion of Haitians with access to basic sanitation decreased from 26% to 17%. Cholera broke out in 2010. Four years into the epidemic, a trip to the bathroom for most Haitians still means looking for an open field or wading into a public canal at dawn. Those who can afford to, dig cesspools under outhouses. When the cesspools get full, it’s time to call a man like Leon." [more inside]
posted by zarq on Mar 13, 2014 - 11 comments

'Builders' and 'Firefighters'

"The Art of Presence" [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jan 21, 2014 - 7 comments

"[O]ne of the more egregious failures of the criminal justice system..."

U.S. District Court Judge Jed Rakoff on "Why Have No High Level Executives Been Prosecuted In Connection With The Financial Crisis?" Judge Rakoff, a federal trial judge who sits in the Southern District of New York, writes: "[M]y point is that the Department of Justice has never taken the position that all the top executives involved in the events leading up to the financial crisis were innocent, but rather has offered one or another excuse for not criminally prosecuting them – excuses that, on inspection, appear unconvincing."
posted by jayder on Dec 5, 2013 - 28 comments

Flight to safety, flight to liquidity, flight to quality.

Always totalize! This is the majuscule axiom — the maxiom, let us say — for revolution. Revolution is a total thought, a thought of the totality; they are necessarily entangled. Reform, repair, regime change, recuperation: all of these are the politics of the partial, of isolating specific problems as if they admitted of independent solution. Ezra Pound said that the epic is a poem that contains history. What matter that we might amend the last word, a minor amendment at that, a swapping out of inseparable concepts? The epic is the poem that contains totality. [more inside]
posted by whyareyouatriangle on Sep 4, 2013 - 53 comments

From a distance it looks a bit like...

A history of CLiNT, Mark Millar’s attempt at launching a newsstand anthology comic, which ended this month despite its Lad Mag sensibility, celebrity creators such as Jonathan Ross and Frankie Boyle, and a recent reboot. The comic magazine joins the likes of Revolver, Deadline, Crisis, Toxic! and Meltdown in the great newsagents in the sky, though like many of those other short lived UK magazines it has spawned many spin off successes, not least the controversial Kick Ass II, which is now a movie minus its rape scene.
posted by Artw on Aug 21, 2013 - 62 comments

North Korea Sets April 10th Deadline

North Korea has warned foreign embassies in Pyongyang that it cannot guarantee their safety from the threat of conflict after 10 April, and has advised them to consider pulling their staff out of the capital. This follows North Korea blocking South Korean Workers from the Kaesong industrial complex - a sign that this might be more material than the usual posturing, warning that a 'moment of explosion' is nearing and moving missiles with "considerable range" to its east coast. Though the US is playing down the threat and the UK and Russia have no plans of moving their diplomats the possibility of an accident or miscalculation leading to war looms. North Korea has earned the reprobation of Russia and Fidel Castro in recent days and even longtime supporter China is beginning to lose patience with it - something some say is not before time.
posted by Artw on Apr 5, 2013 - 239 comments

Down but not out.

After Forbes magazine declared Dayton, OH, one of America's " fastest dying cities," a group of local media makers created Reinvention Stories. The interactive film/multimedia experience rolls out this month in three acts.
posted by Miko on Mar 4, 2013 - 26 comments

"Scholars, however, have long known a very different story"

The Real Cuban Missile Crisis: Everything you think you know about those 13 days is wrong.
posted by andoatnp on Feb 8, 2013 - 49 comments

Level 2 is more worrisome. Level 3 is hair-raising.

"We decided to go on an adventure through the financial statements of one bank [Wells Fargo], to explore exactly what they do and do not show, and to gauge whether it is possible to make informed judgments about the risks the bank may be carrying. We chose a bank that is thought to be a conservative financial institution, and an exemplar of what a large modern bank should be."
posted by vidur on Jan 14, 2013 - 14 comments

Visualizing the Euro crisis

The Absurd Quest for Euro Crisis Images: The Greeks aren't the only ones sick of the euro crisis. Photographers are reaching the end of their tether too, struggling to shoot images of euro coins in various states of distress to illustrate the story. Though some of the photos are absurd, they still get published -- because news outlets are equally desperate. Gallery. [via]
posted by daniel_charms on Oct 17, 2012 - 19 comments

The limit does not exist

The complete guide to America's jobs crisis and the failure of monetary policy using animated gifs
posted by Hypnotic Chick on Sep 11, 2012 - 16 comments

Pick your side. Pick your history.

"Some date the crisis to August 9 2007, the day it became clear that Europe’s banks were up to their necks in US housing debt. The ECB flooded markets with €95bn of liquidity. It seemed a lot of money then. The term “trillion” was still banned by the Telegraph style book in those innocent days. We have since learned to swing with the modern dance music from central banks." [Five years on, the Great Recession is turning into a life sentence]
posted by vidur on Aug 13, 2012 - 101 comments

Financial Markets, Politics and the New Reality

Financial Markets, Politics and the New Reality: "Louis M. Bacon is the head of Moore Capital Management, one of the largest and most influential hedge funds in the world. Last week, he announced that he was returning one quarter of his largest fund, about $2 billion, to his investors, [saying] it is impossible to make money when there is heavy political involvement, because political involvement introduces unpredictability in the market… Adam Smith and David Ricardo, who modern investors so admire, [never] used the term "economics" by itself, but only in conjunction with politics; they called it political economy… The investors' problem is that they mistake the period between 1991 and 2008 as the norm and keep waiting for it to return."
posted by the mad poster! on Aug 9, 2012 - 36 comments

What happened with Iceland?

It seems that Iceland's unorthodox crisis policy response has succeeded.
posted by knz on Jul 16, 2012 - 67 comments

Casino economy

The Las Vegas Sands Corporation, headed by multibillionaire and notorious supporter of right-wing causes Sheldon Adelson, is considering building an enormous gambling resort in crisis-stricken Spain: Euro Vegas [more inside]
posted by Skeptic on Jun 8, 2012 - 24 comments

Hint: the answer is democracy.

The Costs of Capitalism's Crisis: Who Will Pay? Economics professor Richard Wolff gives some context to the latest economic crisis and suggests a solution to prevent this from happening again.
posted by mhjb on May 20, 2012 - 58 comments

I am Hellene

A little while ago a video by a young Greek actress appeared on the web, attempting to hit back at the blame and recriminations her country has suffered in the debt crisis. The video (which follows the style of a beer commercial) created all sorts of reactions in Greece, with some people responding with their own videos. Here is one, and here is another. There are more, but these have become quite popular. Enjoy!
posted by acrobat on May 4, 2012 - 53 comments

We write to communicate an untenable situation...

Harvard’s annual cost for journals from these providers now approaches $3.75M. In 2010, the comparable amount accounted for more than 20% of all periodical subscription costs and just under 10% of all collection costs for everything the Library acquires. Some journals cost as much as $40,000 per year, others in the tens of thousands. Prices for online content from two providers have increased by about 145% over the past six years, which far exceeds not only the consumer price index, but also the higher education and the library price indices. These journals therefore claim an ever-increasing share of our overall collection budget. Even though scholarly output continues to grow and publishing can be expensive, profit margins of 35% and more suggest that the prices we must pay do not solely result from an increasing supply of new articles. Harvard's Faculty Advisory Council asks Harvard's faculty to change how they publish. [more inside]
posted by Toekneesan on Apr 24, 2012 - 80 comments

Before and after science.

Writing in the New York Review of Books, Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg discusses his reason for suspecting that advances in particle physics and astronomy will not just slow down in the coming years, but cease entirely.
posted by Nomyte on Apr 23, 2012 - 41 comments

nonsense economics

"I call it the destruction of shared prosperity hypothesis. ... [A]round 1980 the U.S. adopted a fundamentally flawed economic paradigm ... that abandoned full employment and severed the link between wages and productivity growth. ... Financial deregulation, regulatory forbearance, financial innovation, financial mania, and plain vanilla financial fraud kept the economy going by making ever more credit available, However, as the economy cannibalized itself by undercutting income distribution and accumulating debt, it needed ever larger speculative bubbles to grow. The house price bubble was simply the last and biggest bubble and was effectively the only way around the stagnation that would otherwise have developed in 2001." - an interview with Thomas Palley on the origins and prognosis for the crisis
posted by crayz on Apr 18, 2012 - 31 comments

"Before we let you take over our city we will burn it down first,"

Emotions ran high (video) as city and state leaders met to work out a deal to address Detroit's looming budget crisis. The threat of state imposition of an emergency financial manager has some residents fearful of the ulterior motives of state officials: [more inside]
posted by ferdinand.bardamu on Mar 27, 2012 - 26 comments

Saving Rasquera

Mired in debt, the small town of Rasquera, in Spain, is considering an unorthodox source of funding: growing marijuana. [more inside]
posted by Skeptic on Feb 29, 2012 - 8 comments

Who owns the State NOW?

Robert Shiller wants to replace much of existing state debt by selling shares of the “earnings” of national economies, in units of 1/trillon GDP.
posted by T.D. Strange on Feb 23, 2012 - 39 comments

An academic review of 21 books on the financial crisis

Andrew Lo reviews 21 books on the financial crisis. In a 41-page paper, Andrew Lo, from the MIT Sloan School of Management, does a comparative review of 21 books about the financial crisis - some from academics and some from journalists and Secretary Paulson, looking for common threads. Tyler Cowen comments.
posted by falameufilho on Jan 22, 2012 - 30 comments

As a banker, you have no lack of opportunities to look into the human soul

As the former head of Deutsche Bank, Hilmar Kopper was once the most powerful banker in Germany. In an interview with SPIEGEL, the 76-year-old takes stock of his career and the current crisis shaking Europe. The three main constants he has seen in the world, he says, are "money, avarice and greed."
posted by chavenet on Dec 30, 2011 - 21 comments

Blood, sweat and tears

Nobody was surprised when Italy Prime Minister Mario Monti presented a draconian "save Italy" emergency Budget decree on Sunday - that's what he had been nominated to do. But the full impact of the measures, especially hitting pensioners, became stunningly clear when Welfare Minister Elsa Fornero, invited by Monti to present her ministry's section of the decree to the press and TV, broke down (SLYT) and was unable to bring out the word "sacrifice".
posted by aqsakal on Dec 4, 2011 - 72 comments

"I would rather be sitting back home at my desk, believe me. But this is too important."

"The political elite have actually no interest in explaining to the people that important decisions are made in Strasbourg; they are only afraid of losing their own power." Jürgen Habermas on the crisis of the European project and how it could be overcome.
posted by daniel_charms on Nov 28, 2011 - 29 comments

Art of household management

A Planetary Crisis Is A Terrible Thing to Waste There are striking similarities between the current economic and ecological crises — both involve indulgent over-consumption and a failure to consider the impacts on future generations. But it’s not too late to look to new economic and environmental models and to dramatically change course. opines Der Spiegel environmental journalist, Christian Schwägerl
posted by infini on Oct 27, 2011 - 17 comments

Hollywood occupied with financial crisis

Ranked: Films about the Ongoing Financial Crisis
posted by telstar on Oct 21, 2011 - 13 comments

Climate Reality Project

"24 Hours of Reality will focus the world’s attention on the full truth, scope, scale and impact of the climate crisis. To remove the doubt. Reveal the deniers. And catalyze urgency around an issue that affects every one of us.” — Al Gore on the worldwide event to broadcast the reality of the climate crisis. The Climate Reality Project will live stream starting at 7pm CT on September 14. [more inside]
posted by netbros on Sep 13, 2011 - 47 comments

Wotan Represents The Bundesbank

JP Morgan explains the euro crisis with Lego [Full PDF version]
posted by chavenet on Sep 7, 2011 - 22 comments

Mythundersthood

Why Africa is leaving Europe behind: Africans are relishing something of a reversal in roles. The former colonial powers in Europe are wrestling with debt crises, austerity budgets, rising unemployment and social turmoil. By contrast much of sub-Saharan Africa can point to robust growth, better balanced books and rising capital inflows. There is an opportunity in this novel scenario: for Africa to assert itself on the global stage, and for European countries to take advantage of their historic footprint in Africa by stimulating commercial expansion to their south. But it is far from clear either side will grasp it. Recently.
posted by infini on Aug 21, 2011 - 27 comments

NHK looks at Fukushima

On July 9, the Japanese public broadcaster NHK aired a documentary on the earliest days of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear crisis. There appears to be precisely one place on the internet where it can currently be viewed: here.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Jul 27, 2011 - 44 comments

'South California' for 51st state?

Jeff Stone, a politician from Riverside County, wants 13 conservative Southern California counties to secede and become the country's 51st state.
posted by reenum on Jul 12, 2011 - 154 comments

Bubbles and Public Facts

The Destruction of Economic Facts - "Renowned Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto argues that the financial crisis wasn't just about finance—it was about a staggering lack of knowledge" (via) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on May 23, 2011 - 35 comments

Speculators Gonna Speculate

The World Development Movement (WDM) published a report six months ago on How Banking Speculation Causes Food Crises. It describes why the deregulation of commodity derivatives, specifically food commodity derivatives, has led to a state of global instability in the price of food. Political instability in the Middle East is not helping either. The European Commission is considering methods to introduce regulation in commodity derivative markets [Strategy Outline PDF]. In the meantime, speculators gonna speculate. [more inside]
posted by lemuring on Mar 5, 2011 - 26 comments

What's the problem?

Interview with Gary Gorton (pdf) - Fascinating look at private institutional bank money creation (really) and subsequent run on the shadow banking system that hearkens back to the late-19th century banking crises with securitization playing the role of checking before the advent of deposit insurance. "Gorton is a lucid narrator of a complex tale." (via via)
posted by kliuless on Jan 14, 2011 - 10 comments

Ireland Bailout

The Republic of Ireland is in preliminary talks with EU officials for financial support, the BBC has learned. Q&A: Irish bond crisis.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates on Nov 13, 2010 - 58 comments

Dear Homeowners Of America, if you can't walk after reading this, it's because you've been well and truly...

Somebody fed the hydra a hand grenade. The “robo-signer” scandal began September 20th when news broke that GMAC/Ally was suspending foreclosures in 23 states due to flawed affidavits submitted in foreclosure proceedings there. Since then, JP Morgan Chase, and Bank of America, and now possibly Littleton Loan Servicing (a subsidiary of Goldman Sachs) have admitted similar problems. With yesterday’s announcement by Bank of America that it will be suspending foreclosures in all 50 states (not just the ones where foreclosures go before a judge) all signs point to the fact that mere false affidavits are no longer the issue; other, more serious problems are now being uncovered, e.g. forged assignments and failure to serve papers. Up to 40 state’s attorney’s general are poised to announce a joint investigation. What does all this mean? Well…uh…can you actually prove you own your house? And can your bank? And can the investment bank who’s been collecting the payments from the bond they made out of your mortgage? If you can’t, you’re going to have a hell of a time selling it.* And so will all the banks.* Did I mention that bank-owned (REO/forclosures) sales are 25 percent of the housing market? [more inside]
posted by Diablevert on Oct 9, 2010 - 146 comments

Donald Duck And Glenn Beck Remixed In Cartoon (SLYT)

Right Wing Radio Duck "Donald's life is turned upside-down by the current economic crisis and he finds himself unemployed and falling behind on his house payments. As his frustration turns into despair Donald discovers a seemingly sympathetic voice coming from his radio named Glenn Beck. "
posted by Arthur Phillips Jones Jr on Oct 2, 2010 - 52 comments

Things Fall Apart

The City of Oakland, California, is preparing to fire more than one quarter of it's entire police force. [more inside]
posted by Avenger on Jun 22, 2010 - 101 comments

Wells Fargo, You Never Know What Hit You.

Wajahat Ali, a solo practitioner from California, takes on Wells Fargo in an attempt to get his clients' home loan modified. Lots of ball dropping and passing of the buck ensues. He describes the Kafka-esque nature of the experience.
posted by reenum on Jun 20, 2010 - 41 comments

Can California fix the Delta before disaster strikes?

"It's the ultimate Gordian knot ... There is no other system in the world as complex as the Delta." [more inside]
posted by Groovytimes on Apr 23, 2010 - 34 comments

Purchase risky debt on a massive scale and then place a bet that the debt will fail!

Betting Against the American Dream. In 2005, just as Wall Street started to get cold feet about the housing market, the Magnetar hedge fund helped create a new wave of billion-dollar mortgage-backed securities, pushed bankers to include riskier sub-prime mortgages, and then shorted the securities, making millions when the bubble finally burst. Traders on both sides of the deals pocketed enormous fees even if their banks went under when the securities failed. Pulitzer Prize-winning ProPublica, This American Life, and NPR's Planet Money track down some of the big winners in the housing/financial crisis. No time to read or listen? It seemed so much like a scheme from The Producers, they even recorded a show tune to explain it all. (Previously, 2, 3)
posted by straight on Apr 15, 2010 - 30 comments

Flint is on Fire.

In case anyone still cares: Flint, Michigan is on Fire. [more inside]
posted by idiopath on Apr 3, 2010 - 78 comments

Heads I win, tails you lose...

"Although the word “entitlement” fits, it’s been used so frequently as to have become inadequate to capture the preening self-regard, the obliviousness to the damage that high-flying finance has inflicted on the real economy, the learned blindness to vital considerations in the pay equation. Getting an education, or even hard work, does not guarantee outcomes. One of the basic precepts of finance is that of a risk-return tradeoff: high potential payoff investments come with greater downside. But how did that evolve into the current belief system among the incumbents, that Wall Street was a sure ride, a guaranteed “heads I win, tails you lose” bet?"
Yves Smith writes an essay on 'indefensible men.'
posted by ennui.bz on Mar 19, 2010 - 38 comments

"Leading bankers destroy £7 of value for every pound they generate."

The New Economics Foundation, also responsible for the Happy Planet Index and Jubilee 2000 campaign, has released a study (full text here) about the values and costs of different professions to society.
posted by emjaybee on Jan 10, 2010 - 16 comments

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