Krugman on the broader implications of the Cypriot haircut

Paul Krugman made a pretty strong indictment against international finance today. Anyone disagree? (I don’t.)

Let me make a broader point: we’ve now seen three island nations around Europe become huge international banking hubs relative to their GDPs, then get into crisis because their domestic economies don’t have the resources to bail out those metastasized banking systems if something goes wrong. This strongly suggests, to me at least, that we have a fundamental problem with the whole architecture (to use the preferred fancy word) of international finance.

Read the full article here:

Guardian: ‘White House Officials … Gave Strong Indications The President Is Inclined To Approve The Keystone XL Pipeline’ | ThinkProgress

“We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.” -Barack Obama – January 20, 2013

Transition Studies

By Joe Romm on Mar 16, 2013 at 11:18 am

WashPost: “EPA likely to delay climate rules for new power plants”

The Obama Administration has, tragically, signaled it may retreat on two major climate issues.

The UK Guardianreported Friday:

Barack Obama’s grand vision of action on climate change shrank to $200m a year to fund research into clean fuel cars, with signs of retreat on the big environmental issues of the day….

But on the most immediate environmental decision in his in-tray — the future of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline project – White House officials indicated on Friday that Obama’s green and liberal supporters would be in for a disappointment. Officials signalled that the president was inclined to approve the project.

I must say that this $200 million a year, which has zero chance of seeing the light of day in the Tea-Party-controlled House of…

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Mayor Bloomberg’s Big Gulp ban is right out.

Mayor Bloomberg’s big soda ban was invalidated today, just one day before it  was set to go into effect.  The judge who made the decision stated that the rule was “arbitrary and capricious.”  (The word “inconceivable” came to mind in hearing this explanation, which is a sure sign it’s time to look up word meanings — as I’m often wont to do.)

So let’s take a look…


  1. Based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system.
  2. (of power or a ruling body) Unrestrained and autocratic in the use of authority.

Flickr/Usonian “Capricious”


Given to sudden and unaccountable changes of mood or behavior.
whimsical – wayward – fickle – freakish – crotchety


Methinks his use of capricious was arbitrary.

Read the full NYT article here:

Judge Invalidates Bloomberg’s Ban on Sugary Drinks –


Five is right out.

Justice: What’s The Right Thing To Do? Episode 01 “THE MORAL SIDE OF MURDER”

I highly recommend checking out the video above.  (Michael Sandel is a wonderful philospher and his lectures are readily accessible.)  If you enjoy the experience, you might want to join me in taking his EdX course (ER22x Justice), which starts on 3/12/13.  It will likely change you and that change will almost assuredly be for the better.

Transition Studies

E120, e145,

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Is Whole Foods’ GMO Decision De Facto Legislation?

Whole Foods recently announced that they will begin requiring their suppliers to label products containing Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).  Here’s the key piece from that announcement:

We are the first national grocery chain to set a deadline for full GMO transparency. By 2018, we will require our supplier partners to label products containing GMO ingredients, and we will work in collaboration with them as they transition to sourcing non-GMO ingredients or to clearly labeling products with ingredients containing GMOs.

This may seem a natural fit for Whole Foods and that it will drive the retail grocery industry down the GMO labeling path.  I’m not so certain.  Rather than leading the way for industry-wide acceptance of labeling, this may in fact further bifurcate the retail grocery market.   Some vendors may decide to opt out and end their relationships with Whole Foods.  Given that possibility, this feels like a bit of a gamble as Whole Foods has been working to gain market share through value pricing.  If this doesn’t work as it appears they are hoping, they may be forcing themselves into a corner where broad appeal is more difficult.  (I’m not trying to have a discussion of stock prices, just thinking through the possible outcomes and unintended consequences of strategy.)

Looking at the other industry players (Full disclosure, I am an employee of SuperValu.), I see one of two possible paths which will likely be decided by the first moving large player.  Either a heavyweight like Wal-Mart will announce they’re going to go down the same path as Whole Foods (in effect enacting de facto legislation at that point), or a large supplier of Whole Foods will announce they’re pulling up stakes.  In that case, they may lead the aforementioned market bifurcation wherein suppliers line up on either side of the labeling fence.  The latter move would be much less certain than the former, but it certainly could drive the suggested outcome.

Whole Foods’ move appears to make industry-wide acceptance more likely, but I don’t see it as a foregone conclusion.  Regardless of the outcome, I’m hoping it helps us replace the cacophony of fear-mongering and obfuscation with a more reasoned, science-based debate on the potential benefits and risks of GMO foods.  If so, I think we’ll all owe a debt of thanks to Whole Foods.  We’ll see.