April 4, 2013

Morning reads: Housing bubble 2.0 and the Harlem Shake

1. Ex Goldman trader faces prison over secret $8b trade position
Matthew Taylor, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) trader, pleaded guilty to concealing an unauthorized $8.3 billion trading position in 2007, causing the bank to lose $118 million.

2. Housing bubble 2.0? Obama admin pushing banks to lend to people with weak credit
 The Obama administration is engaged in a broad push to make more home loans available to people with weaker credit, an effort that officials say will help power the economic recovery but that skeptics say could open the door to the risky lending that caused the housing crash in the first place.

3. Economic fundamentals are sound
 “The fundamentals are sound.” The catchphrase is the last refuge of economic scoundrels. It’s what politicians tend to say when the economy is in a recession and about to slip deeper into contraction. Beware of anybody using it to deflect attention from the iceberg of bad news that is looming just off the bow.

4. David Stockman's delusions: The gold standard is a really, really bad idea
Have we been living in some kind of economic hellscape the past 80 years? 

Now, the past five years have been brutal. And the five before that weren't great, either. But it seems hard to argue that the U.S. economy peaked in any way back in 1933. Well, unless you're a certain kind of libertarian. The kind of libertarian who thinks we cast ourselves out of our economic Eden after we cast off the gold standard to taste the forbidden fruit of fiat money.

In other words, a libertarian like ex-Reagan budget director David Stockman.

5. You didn't make the Harlem Shake go viral...corporations did
Experts said the “Harlem Shake” phenomenon was emergent behavior from the hive mind of the internet—accidental, ad hoc, uncoordinated: a “meme” that “went viral.” But this is untrue. The real story of the “Harlem Shake” shows how much popular culture has changed and how much it has stayed the same.