Saturday, June 19, 2010


Larry Summers doesn’t sound particularly confident re: American economy.

On the numbers game in Harlem:
Probably well over half the residents of one of America’s largest African American communities regularly bet a nickel or a dime on the numbers, derived at first from daily banking-settlement figures and later from the pari-mutuel payouts on horse races (these numbers were random and hence un-fixable). This criminal enterprise, with its dense network of “bankers” and numbers runners, was Harlem’s largest employer and grossed tens of millions of dollars a year. The numbers racket was also almost certainly America’s largest black-owned business—until Dutch Schultz, Lucky Luciano, and company horned in on the action, siphoning the profits out of Harlem. By the mid-1930s the numbers was a ubiquitous feature of both black and white urban life and a prime source of income for the mob; it would remain so until New York state established Off Track Betting in the 1970s.
The morality police are literally that in Iran:
In a televised interview last week, Ahmadinejad suggested a "cultural campaign" against interpretations of Islamic dress that have been deemed improper by authorities rather than the humiliating high-profile police crackdown already underway.

His comments came weeks after law enforcement agencies stepped up efforts to curb what many within the regime see as a threat to the ruling ideology. Morality police have been stopping cars carrying women and shutting down stores that sell clothing considered immodest.
The House is trying to ban strategic defaulters from defaulting. You know what would’ve been easier here (just a tip)? Cramdown.

Germany’s government is in turmoil.

The SEC is investigating Magnetar, though I’m not sure it’ll amount to much. If you don’t remember Magnetar, here’s the superb ProPublica series on it.

Sharron Angle: crazy.

Here’s a story on a bunch of states trying to pare back their pension bills. There’s one I want to highlight:
Despite its pension reform, Illinois is still in deep trouble. That vaunted $300 million in immediate savings? The state produced it by giving itself credit now for the much smaller checks it will send retirees many years in the future — people who must first be hired and then, for full benefits, work until age 67. 
By recognizing those far-off savings right away, Illinois is letting itself put less money into its pension fund now, starting with $300 million this year.
Ah, Illinois: displaying its well-known commitment to good, sensible government.

Avoiding the resource curse.

So, uh, apparently Sens. Lieberman and Collins have introduced a bill to give the President to shut down parts of the internet (in the name of security!). Hmmmmmm….

China to let its currency float against a weighted basket of currencies.

On the sketchy world of credit card debt relievers.

The only way to reliably predict the future.

NBA franchises, ranked.

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