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Comment: Greece was bamboozled by international banks (Score 1) 279

Even though they did not act completely responsibly, Greece was horribly exploited by the international banking community.

Goldman-Sachs was a major player in the destruction of the Greek economy. They set up unsustainable loan arrangements and then bet that Greece would not be able to pay them off.

Goldman Sachs arranged swaps that effectively allowed Greece to borrow 1 billion Euros without adding to its official public debt. While it arranged the swaps, Goldman also sought to buy insurance on Greek debt and engage in other trades to protect itself against the risk of a default on those swaps. Eventually, Goldman sold the swaps to the national bank of Greece.

In light of this combination of arranging structured financing while shorting the customer's debt, Goldman may find itself in a familiarly uncomfortable public light. Goldman has come under a barrage of criticism for structuring mortgage backed securities while its traders shorted that market.

They pulled the same scam on US home buyers that they pulled on an entire country. They originated loans that they knew were going to default. They made money doing that. Then they sold the loans to another sucker. They made money doing that. Then the bet that the loans would fail. They made money doing that as well. In the end, both the US home buyers and an entire country were left with unpayable debts.

Goldman-Sachs was monumentally predatory. As the article says:

Goldman was uniquely well-positioned to understand that Greek debt service obligations were higher than they would have appeared just by looking at its official debt levels, making Greece a riskier credit. This knowledge may have allowed Goldman to acquire credit protection on the trades on the cheap.

If you read the full article it's full of excuses why Goldman was not really a bad actor, but you must remember the source is the Business Insider, and they would happily support selling children into sex slavery if it was legal because Profit!

It's a pure swindle. Goldman had the deck stacked and the cards marked. Even a sovereign government was not up to understanding how a huge banking institution was able to manipulate the financial system to squeeze them dry and avoid any responsibility.

Comment: Greece's Welfare State is Unsustainable (Score 3, Insightful) 279

I've been following the Greek debt crisis for at least five years, Greece's problem is that they absolutely refuse to stop spending money they don't have. Remember: Greece has never practiced real austerity (cutting deficits to match receipts) since they joined the Eurozone. Not once. (By contrast, Estonia did eliminate their deficit, and as a result started recovering from The Great Recession quicker than other EU economies.) Greece merely slowed the rate at which they were going more broke (or at least pretended to). Despite being right at the edge of complete national bankruptcy, Greece continues to insist that there will be “no wage or pension cuts” for government workers.

Greece lied about their economic situation to get into the Eurozone, lied about it before the crisis broke, lied after it broke, and continue to lie now.

Keep in mind that the past four years of bank loans from the ECB have not been to save Greece. What they were really designed to do was to keep the card game running long enough to let EU insiders and favored national banks unload Greek bonds, and to reduce their exposure to Greek default risks long enough to put European taxpayers onto the hook in the inevitable event of a Greek default. They pretended to save Greece, and Greece pretended to reform. And now here we are.

The adoption of the Euro hastened and deepened Greece's crisis, but was not the central cause, which was their refusal to stop spending money they didn't have to prop up their extravagant (even by European standards) welfare state. This modern welfare state has now become more sacred to voters than the capitalist economics that make it possible. As Mark Steyn put it, "People’s sense of entitlement endures long after the entitlement has ceased to make sense."

The problem is that with declining demographics, the cradle-to-grave European welfare state is unsustainable. Greece and the rest of the PIIGS are discovering that first, but birth rates are declining all across Europe, and modern welfare states are unsustainable without a new generation to stick with the bill. Most economists believe that Greece will never be able to pay back what they've already borrowed.

Syriza was elected on a platform of ignoring basic economic reality, but they've finally run out of people willing to loan them money to spend. The risk of a Grexit is already priced into all the European markets, But leaving the Eurozone doesn't provide relief for any of the Euro-denominated debt Greece already owes, and there's no guarantee European markets would even be willing to exchange refloated drachmas for real(er) money. And since it's hard to see any sane institution buying Greek debt after a default, Greece's government would undoubtedly start printing drachmas like mad and trigger hyperinflation.

If Greece was willing to pare back its welfare state to much saner levels, they might have a chance to slowly dig their way out of the crisis. Since they refuse to, they're in for a whole lot more economic pain...

Comment: US Military lets you retire at 38 (Score 1) 279

by davidwr (#49766323) Attached to: Greece Is Running Out of Money, Cannot Make June IMF Repayment


The US military and some US civilian jobs such as FBI agents let you retire with full benefits after 20 years of service. The US military allows you to retire at 100% of base pay plus benefits at 40 years of service (typically age 58 for those enlisting straight out of high school).

Comment: Greece can pull out Re:Soverign debt (Score 1) 279

by davidwr (#49766275) Attached to: Greece Is Running Out of Money, Cannot Make June IMF Repayment

Treaty or no treaty, any Eurozone country can pull out just by declaring themselves no longer in the Eurozone and declaring that all existing sovereign debt owed by them is hereby converted into the new national currency and if the creditors don't like it tough on them.

Yes, there will be a price to pay. Technically, the other countries could declare war on Greece for breaking the treaty but that's not going to happen. Much more likely, they'll just stop doing business with Greece and its citizens and companies and possibly pass laws making it hard for their citizens and companies to do business with Greece or its citizens and companies.

The question for Greece is: What is your least-painful option?

Comment: Re:This will get thrown out... (Score 1) 111

by tepples (#49765839) Attached to: Oculus Founder Hit With Lawsuit

"IP" is not any sort of legal construct.

Intellectual property is a category including copyright, patent, trademark, trade secret, and right of publicity. It has meant that in the United States Code since 1996 when Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act became law.

Do you mean "patent"? Why don't you say "patent"?

Because a single product may be covered by interlocking or overlapping copyrights, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets that are licensed as a package.

Comment: Other "cloud" hosts exist now (Score 1) 47

Amazon has a monopoly on its ecommerce software and AWS

Amazon Marketplace, yes. AWS, not so much. AWS is just "cloud" in its original sense of rapid provisioning of server leases. True, Amazon pioneered the "cloud" category as it was trying to find a year-round use for server capacity that it uses for Amazon Marketplace during the American toy buying season every December. But there are plenty of other big scalable hosting providers by now, such as Microsoft Azure and Google App Engine.

Comment: Re:Starts with a Bang (Score 1) 53

by Required Snark (#49765669) Attached to: Universe's Dark Ages May Not Be Invisible After All
You're absolutely right. Ever person who has read Slashdot since it started knows far more about astrophysics then that feeble Ethan guy. He's scientifically illiterate compared to the rest of us.

We all just woke up one morning and said to ourselves "I'm going over to Wikipedia and read about the forbidden spin flip transition of hydrogen and it's relationship to the 'dark age' period when the expanding universe first became transparent to electromagnetic radiation." I know I did.

You shouldn't hold back. Tell the full story. We all know at least as much as the authors of any author who is the subject of a Slashdot posting. Slashdot readers that that superior to everyone else.

Since we are all so damned smart and know so much about everything, the only logical conclusion is that Slashdot should just shut down. It's beneath us. I'm so glad you pointed this out to everyone here. Even given our collective genus, you are slightly superior. I take my hat off to you, sir.

Of course, there is a somewhat simpler solution that you could unilaterally execute that would solve the problem: never log into Slashdot ever again. It's an insult to those of true enlightenment and we should all immediately log off. Leave it to the cretins and let it die the natural death of the stupid. I'm taking your advice, and this is my last time here.

Arrogant much?

Comment: Re:Funny, that spin... (Score 4, Insightful) 284

by hey! (#49765025) Attached to: What AI Experts Think About the Existential Risk of AI

Spin, sure, but it's a waay bigger minority than I expected. I'd even say even shockingly large.

The genius of Asimov's three laws is that he started by laying out rules that on the face of it rule out the old "robot run amok" stories. He then would write, if not a "run amok" story, one where the implications aren't what you'd expect. I think the implications of an AI that surpasses natural human intelligence are beyond human intelligence to predict, even if we attempt to build strict rules into that AI.

One thing I do believe is that such a development would fundamentally alter human society, provided that the AI was comparably versatile to human intelligence. It's no big deal if an AI is smarter than people at chess; if it's smarter than people at everyday things, plus engineering, business, art and literature, then people will have to reassess the value of human life. Or maybe ask the AI what would give their lives meaning.

Comment: Re:Truth be told... (Score 4, Interesting) 131

by hey! (#49764209) Attached to: Al-Qaeda's Job Application Form Revealed

Dear moderators: "Troll" is not a synonym for "I disagree with this".

That said, I disagree with this.

We've known since the investigation of 9/11 that suicide bombers are not necessarily dead-enders except in the literal sense. Economic powerlessness might play a role in the political phenomenon of extremist violence, but it is not a necessary element of the profile of a professional extremist. These people often come from privileged backgrounds and display average to above average job aptitude.

Mohammed Atta's life story makes interesting reading. He was born to privileged parents; at the insistence of his emotionally distant father he wasn't allowed to socialize with other kids his age, and had a lifelong difficulty with relating to his peers. At university he did OK but below the high expectations of his parents. He went to graduate school in urban planning where his thesis was on how impersonal modern high rise buildings ruined the historic old neighborhoods of the Muslim world.

That much is factual; as to why he became an extremist while countless others like him did not, we can only speculate. I imagine that once he decided modernity was the source of his personal dissatisfactions Al Qaeda would be attractive to him. Al Qaeda training provided structure which made interacting with his new "peers" easier than ever before. And martyrdom promised relief from the dissatisfactions of a life spent conscious of his own mediocrity. Altogether he was a miserable and twisted man -- but not economically miserable.

E = MC ** 2 +- 3db