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Saturday, September 27, 2008 

Weekend links.

It looks possible that before Monday we could have another people's bank, this time the Bradford and Bingley. Robert Peston is optimistic that if taken into public ownership, B&B's mortgages could eventually yield a profit, something that no other bank at the moment is willing to countenance. I'd be more inclined to let it go bust - but then I'm not in the government that will take the blame.

Speaking of which, Question That explains why the US bailout, at least in its apparent current form, is just a sticking plaster. It says something of where we've come that I'm in agreement with a libertarian on this - even if for completely different reasons.

Plenty of comment, as could be expected, on last night's presidential debate. Most of the pundits seemed to call it very narrowly for McCain, but it seems that some voters may well have been turned off by McCain's attitude towards Obama, who if anything didn't attack McCain anywhere near as hard as he should have done. Michael Tomasky is confused, Juan Cole has four fisks of McCain's various distortions and lies, while Dan Kennedy concentrates on McCain's apparent contempt for Obama. Freemania both stayed up and live-blogged it, for reasons known only to himself.

Paul Linford delivers his weekly newspaper column on why Gordon's figthback may have begun on Tuesday, but there's still a very long way to go. Jennie Rigg on Lib Con links to a piece by someone at the sharp end of the immigration reforms and introduction of ID cards for those we don't much like or care about, who persuasively makes the case against New Labour. The debate is also well worth a gander. Matthew Parris writes on why the Conservatives ought to, in Vince Cable's words, stop kicking the twitching corpse, while Giles Coren comprehensively proves that he simply cannot write comedy, except unintentionally.

Over at the Scum, the story of the week has been the amazing exclusive that Omar Bakri Mohammed has a daughter who's rather fruity. Anorak recreates the conversation that probably took place between the Sun and Bakri himself, who for a Islamic extremist seems to be remarkably restrained about his daughter's "kufr" ways. Probably complete bullshit is the Sun's follow-up which claims that Bakri paid for her breast enlargement with money from benefits; or that if he did, he must have been saving up for a while for to get the supposed £4,000 which it cost. Notably the paper doesn't seem to have asked him to confirm this, despite being easily able to contact him for the previous report. Over on the Sun Lies Aaron Heath looks at just how piss-poor Jon Gaunt is.

Finally, the Yorkshire Ranter reminds us that yesterday was Stanislav Petrov day, the 25th anniversary of the Soviet lieutenant colonel quite possibly preventing nuclear holocaust when he decided, rightly, that the five missiles flashing across his radar screen were a malfunction rather than actual warheads. Worth remembering that a false alarm could have potentially killed billions, especially when so many today try to tell us that the terrorist "threat" is far above anything that the Soviets ever threw at us.

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Given the estimated $500 trillion market in derivatives trading, which has come from almost nowhere in the last 10-15 years, a $700 billion bail-out does look pretty ineffectual.

The problem stems from an insanely individualist approach. It makes sense for one bank to loosen its credit limits to gain market share, but when all banks do so mayhem ensues. Similarly, it's nobody else's business if I overstretch myself with a loan, but if enogh indivduals do so, it affects everybody.

This is why libertarian 'solutions' are such hogwash.

Incidentally, John Redwood still thinks there's TOO MUCH regulation of the mortgage market. I wonder if that's the line Cameron will take.

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