Brad DeLong Celebrates His DMCA Takedown Notice

This post is by Mark Thoma from Economist's View

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In the first year or so after I started doing this I had one or two discussions about the length of excerpts, and I’ve always
complied with any request (though not without first trying to negotiate, which
was more than successful in one case), but my only literal take down request was from the
Reserve Bank of Australia
. I still don’t understand that one. (When I asked why,
they said that if, say, a graph that was part of the post was found to be in
error and they changed it, the error would persist on my site. I decided to
comply even though it wasn’t an official DMCA notice since if their quality was so bad that that was a significant worry, I
didn’t want their stuff on my site anyway):

In Celebration of a DMCA Takedown Notice: I Link to Elizabeth Kolbert on
“SuperFreakonomics”, by Brad DeLong
: Well, this is new. My first ever DMCA
takedown notice–from HarperCollins, publisher of Levitt and Dubner’s
. While other publishers these days are happy to have
sample chapters of their authors’ works read and distributed on the internet,
not so with HarperCollins.

One thing I can do in response is–tit-for-tat–to remove my praise of and link
to E.M. Halliday’s Understanding Thomas Jefferson: there are other
better (albeit longer) Jefferson biographies published by firms that have not
sent me DMCA notices: read them instead.

I urge everybody–authors and readers alike–to just say no to HarperCollins in
the future.

A second thing I can do is to link to Elizabeth Kolbert’s review of
in the New Yorker:

“SuperFreakonomics” and climate change
: Then, almost overnight, the crisis
passed…. By 1912, autos in New York outnumbered horses, and in 1917 the city’s
last horse-drawn streetcar made its final run. All the anxieties about a
metropolis inundated by ordure had been misplaced.

This story—call it the Parable of Horseshit—has been told many times, with
varying aims. The latest iteration is offered by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J.
Dubner, in their new book, “SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic
Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance”…. Levitt and
Dubner tell the horseshit story as a prelude to discussing climate change: “Just
as equine activity once threatened to stomp out civilization, there is now a
fear that human activity will do the same.” As usual, they say, the anxiety is
unwarranted. First, the global-warming threat has been exaggerated; there is
uncertainty about how, exactly, the earth will respond to rising CO2 levels, and
uncertainty has “a nasty way of making us conjure up the very worst
possibilities.” Second, solutions are bound to present themselves:
“Technological fixes are often far simpler, and therefore cheaper, than the
doomsayers could have imagined.”

Levitt and Dubner have in mind a very particular kind of “technological fix.”
Wind turbines, solar cells, biofuels—these are all, in their view, more trouble
than they’re worth. Such technologies are aimed at reducing CO2 emissions, which
is the wrong goal, they say. Cutting back is difficult and, finally, annoying.
Who really wants to use less oil? This sounds, the pair write, “like wearing
sackcloth.” Wouldn’t it be simpler just to reëngineer the planet?… “Once you
eliminate the moralism and the angst, the task of reversing global warming boils
down to a straightforward engineering problem,” Levitt and Dubner write….

Neither Levitt, an economist, nor Dubner, a journalist, has any training in
climate science—or, for that matter, in science of any kind. It’s their
contention that they don’t need it. The whole conceit behind “SuperFreakonomics”
and, before that, “Freakonomics,” which sold some four million copies, is that a
dispassionate, statistically minded thinker can find patterns and answers in the
data that those who are emotionally invested in the material will have
missed…. Levitt and Dubner claim to have solved the mystery of why crime,
after soaring in the nineteen-eighties, dropped in the nineteen-nineties….
They also have proved—at least to their own satisfaction—that names like Ansley
and Philippa will be popular for girls in the coming decade, that reading to
your kids doesn’t matter, and that drunks should be encouraged to drive rather
than walk.

Given their emphasis on cold, hard numbers, it’s noteworthy that Levitt and
Dubner ignore what are, by now, whole libraries’ worth of data on global
warming. Indeed, just about everything they have to say on the topic is,
factually speaking, wrong. Among the many matters they misrepresent are: the
significance of carbon emissions as a climate-forcing agent, the mechanics of
climate modelling, the temperature record of the past decade, and the climate
history of the past several hundred thousand years. Raymond T. Pierrehumbert is
a climatologist who, like Levitt, teaches at the University of Chicago. In a
particularly scathing critique, he composed an open letter to Levitt, which he
posted on the blog RealClimate….

But what’s most troubling about “SuperFreakonomics” is… [t]hough climate
change is a grave problem, Levitt and Dubner treat it mainly as an opportunity
to show how clever they are…. Among the many likely consequences of shooting
SO2 above the clouds would be new regional weather patterns (after major
volcanic eruptions, Asia and Africa have a nasty tendency to experience
drought)…. There are eminent scientists—among them the Nobel Prize-winning
chemist Paul Crutzen—who argue that geoengineering should be seriously studied,
but only with the understanding that it represents a risky, last-ditch attempt
to avert catastrophe. “By far the preferred way” to confront climate change,
Crutzen has written, “is to lower the emissions of greenhouse gases.”…

To be skeptical of climate models and credulous about things like carbon-eating
trees and cloudmaking machinery and hoses that shoot sulfur into the sky is to
replace a faith in science with a belief in science fiction. This is the turn
that “SuperFreakonomics” takes, even as its authors repeatedly extoll their
hard-headedness. All of which goes to show that, while some forms of horseshit
are no longer a problem, others will always be with us.

Cisco collaboration: nice pieces, where’s the glue?

This post is by Richard Waters from Tech Blog

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Cisco has been on a buying binge as it moves into the collaboration software market. But it has yet to address one overriding question: where’s the glue that will turn an interesting collection of pieces into a coherent whole?
The latest evidence of Cisco’s ambition is on display at its Collaboration Summit, which is taking place […]

U.S. Stocks Weaken; MBIA Loss

This post is by Mukesh Buch from Market News

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U.S. stocks traded lackluster after the bond guarantor MBIA reported quarterly loss. Fluor declined 7.5% after it lowered its annual earnings outlook. Energy and agriculture commodities closed lower. European markets closed mixed as the dollar edged higher.

After InBev, PE Firms Salivate Over Potential Kraft-Cadbury Deal

This post is by Private Equity Beat from Private Equity Beat

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If Kraft Foods Inc. is successful in its hostile bid for Cadbury PLC – or if another buyer emerges – the combined company might well put some assets on the block. If it did, it wouldn’t find itself wanting for private equity interest.

Private equity firms are well acquainted with Cadbury’s stable of products, which includes Trident gum and Dairy Milk chocolate. Even before Kraft first floated an offer for Cadbury in September, private equity firms had looked at Cadbury. An official at a large, New York-based buyout firm said the firm’s principals have known executives at both Kraft and Cadbury for years, and have looked at Cadbury’s books.

Cadbury as a whole is valued at GBP9.8 billion by Kraft’s bid, which is too rich for the private equity industry to pull off at the moment, given the still limping debt markets. But PE firms would be interested in any slivers of the businesses that might come up for sale, the executive said.

Buyout firms like the food sector, thanks to its steady cash flow and recession-proof demand for its products. Many firms already own companies that assets of Kraft or Cadbury could be folded into.

Blackstone Group, for instance, controls Pinnacle Foods Group, which makes things like Duncan Hines cake mixes, Hungry Man frozen dinners, and Vlasic pickles, comparable to assets in Kraft’s portfolio. Blackstone itself is already familiar with Cadbury, having bought beverage company Orangina SAS from Cadbury in 2006 in partnership with Lion Capital.

A few of the other firms currently active in this sector include Warburg Pincus, which took a stake earlier this year in U.K.-based Premier Foods plc, which provides such products as Hovis bread, Mr Kipling cakes and Bisto gravy; European buyout firm Permira, which owns frozen food company Birds Eye iglo Group; and CVC Capital Partners Ltd., which owns Leaf, the former sugar confectionery unit of Dutch food group CSM.

Corporate carve-outs are attractive for PE firms at the moment – witness AB InBev’s acquisition of Anheuser-Busch last year, which has generated at least four spin-out deals for the buyout industry to date. Firms like these sorts of deals for several reasons. For one, the PE industry has plenty of experience in this type of deal, which often entails things like installing new management and new back-office systems. For another, the sellers don’t mind retaining some stake in the upside of such deals, whether by offering seller financing or keeping a small stake in the assets being sold. That helps get deals done in a climate where buyers and sellers remain some distance apart on price.

If a Kraft-Cadbury combination does happen, Terry Bivens, food analyst with JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s investment banking division, said neither Kraft nor Cadbury would be in a hurry to unload assets, but that Kraft could certainly chop off some slow-growing brands.

One thing that could hit the block is coffee maker Maxwell House. “If it’s not a growth business, it’s certainly a stable business” that throws off steady cash flow, Bivens said.

Another brand that could be sold is packaged meats provider Oscar Mayer, as well as some European brands that might overlap with those of Cadbury, Bivens said.

Maxwell House could fetch as much as 10 times earnings before interest, taxes, deprecation and amortization, implying an enterprise value of up to $3.5 billion, according to Bivens. Oscar Mayer could receive seven to eight times Ebitda, representing a price tag of up to $1.5 billion.

Such valuations would put both brands within reach of private equity firms, though strategic buyers such as Sara Lee Corp. and HJ Heinz Co. might well offer some serious competition.

Ray of light: U.S. temp worker hiring increased by 34k in October

This post is by Joseph Lazzaro from BloggingStocks

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To say the current economic climate has been ‘thin on good news’ would be an understatement.

But here are two data points that represent definite uppers: first, monthly job losses have declined to about 190,000 — still large and unacceptable, using any macroeconomic model, but light years away from the 500,000 and 600,000 monthly job losses that characterized the financial crisis’ acute stage earlier this year.

Continue reading Ray of light: U.S. temp worker hiring increased by 34k in October

Ray of light: U.S. temp worker hiring increased by 34k in October originally appeared on BloggingStocks on Mon, 09 Nov 2009 18:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Sun Microsystems’s Statement on the EC’s Objection to Oracle Deal

This post is by Stephen Grocer from Deal Journal

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Here’s Sun Microsystems’s statement regarding the European Commission’s statement of objections Monday regarding Oracle Corp.’s (ORCL) proposed $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems. (Click here to see Oracle’s statement.)

* * *

Sun Microsystems Inc. (JAVA) filed a Form 8K – Other Events – with the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission on November 09, 2009.

On November 9, 2009, the European Commission issued a statement of objections relating to the acquisition of Sun by Oracle Corporation. The Statement of Objections sets out the Commission’s preliminary assessment regarding, and is limited to, the combination of Sun’s open source MySQL database product with Oracle’s enterprise database products and its potential negative effects on
competition in the market for database products. The issuing of a Statement of Objections allows addressees to present arguments in response to the Commission’s preliminary assessment of the competitive effects of a notified transaction. A Statement of Objections is a preparatory document that does not prejudge the European Commission’s final decision. Any final decision by the European Commission is subject to appeal to the European Court of First Instance.

Balance the Federal Budget Yourself

This post is by Real Time Economics from Real Time Economics

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Deficit warriors The Concord Coalition, a national group, and Next 10, a California group, are offering a new do-it-yourself on-line tool to balance the federal budget.

Called the Federal Budget Challenge, the Web site leads users through a series of policy choices ranging from health care to national defense to tax deductions. At each step along the way, a graph displays how their choices impact federal budget deficits over the next 10 years. Users can opt to receive a detailed explanation of each choice that offers arguments for and against each option.

“With the federal deficit soaring, the baby boomers beginning to retire and both houses of Congress debating the cost of health care, it is now more critical than ever that Americans understand the way our nation’s finances work,” said Robert L. Bixby, executive director of The Concord Coalition.

Added F. Noel Perry, founder of Next 10. “Our nation’s finances impact all of us and it’s our responsibility to understand how the federal budget works. This tool allows users to set their own priorities and make policy choices that reflect their values and vision for the future.”

No word whether President Barack Obama has played the game.

EC Opposes Oracle/Sun Deal; Larry Will Fight Back

This post is by Eric Savitz from Tech Trader Daily

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Not surprisingly, the European Commission today issued “a statement of objections” relating to the proposed acquisition of Sun Microsystems (JAVA) by Oracle (ORCL), specifically focused on Sun’s MySQL open source database business. Oracle and Sun both issued responses, one more measured than the other. Guess who took the aggressive approach.

  • Sun noted that the EC’s objection focused on the “potential negative effects on competition” from Oracle’s acquisition of MySQL; the company noted that a “statement of objections” is a preliminary documents that does not pre-judge the EC’s final decision. Sun note that a final decision by the EC would be subject to appeal to the European Court of First Instance.
  • Oracle went on the offensive. (Surprise!) In an unattributed statement, (which certainly sounds a lot like CEO Larry Ellison)  the company said that the deal is “essential” for competition in the high-end server market, and that it “does not threaten to reduce competition in the slightest, including the database market.” Oracle asserts that there are at least 8 strong players in the database business, that Oracle and MySQL are “very different database products,” and that “there is no basis in European law for objecting to a merger of two among eight firms selling differentiated products.” Oracle added that the EC’s position “reveals a profound misunderstanding of both database competition and open source dynamics.” The company also said it plans to “vigorously oppose the Commission’s statement of objections,” asserting that “the evidence against the Commission’s position is overwhelming.” Concludes Oracle: “Given the lack of any credible theory or evidence of competitive harm, we are confident we will ultimately obtain unconditional clearance of the transaction.”

In late trading, JAVA is up 10 cents, or 1.2%, to $8.34.

Update: The Department of Justice, which already has approved the deal, has issued a statement that repeated its view that the proposed deal “is unlikely to be anti-competitive.”

Cameron International: Pull-back is an opportunity

This post is by Joseph Lazzaro from BloggingStocks

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It’s now or never, from a return on equity standpoint, with Cameron International Corporation (NYSE: CAM), first recommended on April 24, 2009 at a price of $25.59. If you bought in April, you’re up about 60%. I’m reiterating my Buy rating, but there are qualifications.

Look for Cameron to continue to benefit from longer-term demand for oilfield capital equipment and deepwater support equipment, on likely, ramping oil demand in the immediate years ahead.

Continue reading Cameron International: Pull-back is an opportunity

Cameron International: Pull-back is an opportunity originally appeared on BloggingStocks on Mon, 09 Nov 2009 17:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Oracle: ‘No Basis’ for Objecting to Sun Merger

This post is by Stephen Grocer from Deal Journal

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Oracle’s negotiations with the European Commission over its acquisition of Sun Microsystems were already contentious. They are likely to get a bit more contentious now.

The European Commission objected to the deal today. Oracle responded by saying it would vigorously oppose the regulators’ stance on the deal.

The commission’s ruling comes just weeks after Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes met with Oracle President Safra Catz and expressed “her disappointment that Oracle had failed to produce, despite repeated requests, either hard evidence that there were no competition problems or a proposal for a remedy to the competition problems identified by the commission.”

The U.S. Department of Justice has already cleared the acquisitions without asking for any divestments.

* * *

Today, Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) issued the following statement:

Oracle’s acquisition of Sun is essential for competition in the high end server market, for revitalizing Sparc and Solaris and for strengthening the Java development platform. The transaction does not threaten to reduce competition in the slightest, including in the database market. The Commission’s Statement of Objections reveals a profound misunderstanding of both database competition and open source dynamics. It is well understood by those knowledgeable about open source software that because MySQL is open source, it cannot be controlled by
anyone. That is the whole point of open source.

The database market is intensely competitive with at least eight strong players, including IBM, Microsoft, Sybase and three distinct open source vendors. Oracle and MySQL are very different database products. There is no basis in European law for objecting to a merger of two among eight firms selling differentiated products. Mergers like this occur regularly and have not been
prohibited by United States or European regulators in decades.

The U.S. Department of Justice carefully reviewed the proposed acquisition during the normal Hart-Scott-Rodino review and considered it again when the European Commission initiated a second phase review. On both occasions the Justice Department came to the conclusion that there is nothing anticompetitive about the deal, including specifically Oracle’s acquisition of the MySQL database product. The U.S. Department of Justice approved the acquisition without conditions and terminated the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act on August 20, 2009.

Sun’s customers universally support this merger and do not benefit from the
continued uncertainty and delay. Oracle plans to vigorously oppose the
Commission’s Statement of Objections as the evidence against the Commission’s
position is overwhelming. Given the lack of any credible theory or evidence of
competitive harm, we are confident we will ultimately obtain unconditional
clearance of the transaction.

Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains certain forward-looking statements about Oracle
and Sun, including statements that involve risks and uncertainties concerning
the European Commission’s Statement of Objections, clearance of the transaction
by the European Commission and satisfaction of other conditions to closing the
transaction. When used in this press release, the words “plans” and “will” and
other similar expressions and any other statements that are not historical facts
are intended to identify those assertions as forward-looking statements. Any
such statement may be influenced by a variety of factors, many of which are
beyond the control of Oracle or Sun, that could cause actual outcomes and
results to be materially different from those projected, described, expressed or
implied in this document due to a number of risks and uncertainties. Potential
risks and uncertainties include, among others, the possibility that the
transaction will not close or that the closing may be further delayed and the
possibility that Oracle or Sun may be adversely affected by other economic,
business, and/or competitive factors. Accordingly, no assurances can be given
that any of the events anticipated by the forward-looking statements will
transpire or occur, or if any of them do so, what impact they will have on the
results of operations or financial condition of Oracle or Sun.

In addition, please refer to the documents that Oracle and Sun, respectively,
file with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) on Forms 10-K, 10-Q
and 8-K for additional risks. You are cautioned not to place undue reliance on
forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of this press
release. Neither Oracle nor Sun is under any duty to update any of the
information in this press release.