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aiden12

What's the last book you read?

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Steven H. Rutledge Imperial Inquisitions: Prosecutors and Informants from Tiberius to Domitian

This had a sensationalist ring for a nonfiction book on Romans, so I dove in. Read the preface and the author undercuts the title (maybe chosen by marketing dept?) on how the informers and malicious prosecutors were not so much a tool of tyranny but sometimes a counterbalance against corruption and intrigue. OK, still sounds interesting until I hit the introduction and first half of book which turns out to be splitting a lot of scholarly hairs.

 

However the second half of book is worth flipping thru because of the thumbnail sketches of ALL known Roman empire snitches and hostile prosecutors... everything that is known about each individual. Gives interesting snapshot of unexpected things, like a merciful intervention by Tiberius on some trivial case. One person is accused of using a chamberpot while wearing a ring with Tiberian portrait - he he. Holy cow, this book costs over a hundred dollars on kindle! Find other formats or weigh it's value to you with this review http://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2001/2001-09-39.html

 

Re: Financial digression on previous post (can exit here) .........................

 

Beware of authors picking and choosing stories to support a sensational sellable picture. Banks were originally horrified at the politicians battering and bashing them to give mortgages to the insolvent. Obam himself rammed lawsuits with the usual claims of racism to force a no-income group to be given mortgages, with the result that it ruined their financial lives and they are now publicly regretful.

 

Under both Clinton and Bush this bank bashing by the gov't and fannie/freddie just broke the back of responsible bankers. So they just gave up and let a cadre of kook bankers try to make the new irrationality pay it's way somehow. Now gov't punishes a bank (MS?) for the sins of the bank they altruistically took over at gov't request to prevent damage to customers or gov't bailout. They further grossly over-fine them hundreds of millions recently for a mistake overseas that had near zero financial impact.

 

The main problem with US unions is the legal loophole that allows them to become a monopoly force. FDR was totally against gov't unions because it is a monopoly against the taxpayers. Then JFK legalized this nightmare and we are just behind Spain where air traffic controllers get over a million dollars a year and still paralyze the country with strikes http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1244156/Spanish-air-traffic-controllers-earn-800-000--replaced-automatic-systems.html .

 

Where I live, food and supplies mostly depend on unionized unskilled with extortionate six figure incomes to not strike, such as a morse code officer (completely obsolete do-nothing job forced on company). There is a special national law that protects unions from charges of cross company monopolies (against consumers). Do you remember the abysmal quality of US cars in the days before imports broke their monopoly?

 

The recent bailout of GM (costing unrecoverable billions) was naked lawless populism. The bondholders were robbed... against hundreds of years of law saying they were the last to lose out! This is the traditional investment of widows and orphans, or at least pensions which suffer low returns for safety. But they were robbed because the unions were given the stock that is supposed to take the risk. I'm talking about the lawless way of the rescue, not whether there should have been breaks given to them (like the corp tax break they got).

Edited by caesar novus

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Beware of authors picking and choosing stories to support a sensational sellable picture. Banks were originally horrified at the politicians battering and bashing them to give mortgages to the insolvent. Obam himself rammed lawsuits with the usual claims of racism to force a no-income group to be given mortgages, with the result that it ruined their financial lives and they are now publicly regretful.

Thanks for the warning but my background in economics is solid, besides graduate work in macro and micro, I've worked in the real world around economists & the international trade scene in D.C. for years. I'm quite well-read on the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis.

 

The whole 'bankers were forced or threatened' is pretty much BS as a cause of the subprime meltdown--a position backed up by the Fed inquiry committee, countless studies including by individual Fed banks. It's no mistake it's relegated to opinion pages more than economic studies of the crisis (there are a few, but not many).

 

The truth is that government-backed CRA mortgages failed at a rate far less than the national average.

 

The proof is in the pudding, Countrywide's horrendous mortgages weren't sold on political pressure. They sold them because once that was done they packed them in groups of mortgage backed securities & collateralized debt obligations then sold off ending up on Wall St as part of Lehman Brothers or bought up by foreign entities. They made money on the sale and were not liable for the mortagages [EDIT: I should've say were not harmed if the mortgages weren't paid], the next guy they sold the MBS' & CDOs to was--understanding this is key to understanding the crisis.

Under both Clinton and Bush this bank bashing by the gov't and fannie/freddie just broke the back of responsible bankers. So they just gave up and let a cadre of kook bankers try to make the new irrationality pay it's way somehow. Now gov't punishes a bank (MS?) for the sins of the bank they altruistically took over at gov't request to prevent damage to customers or gov't bailout. They further grossly over-fine them hundreds of millions recently for a mistake overseas that had near zero financial impact.

No. Lehman Brothers & Bear Stearns [and JP Morgan, and almost all the major players] had nothing to do with selling the original mortgages to homeowners. They took the mortgages packaged, repacked them when needed then resold them. Lehman leveraged themselves 16 to 1 to borrow to buy more. Sixteen to One (that needs repeating). They were insured for losses by whom? AIG.

 

Morgan was responsible for reselling billions & billions of dollars of repacked mortgaged security packages that were toxic and were as responsible for representing them as AAA. AAA securities they sold and that failed. They weren't wet-behind-the-ears guys from Missoula playing the stocks they were at the top of the financial profession. If they weren't responsible no one was. They made tens of billions in profits from these sales & came out smelling like a rose by bailing out some bad stuff w/gov't backing [they would have been in danger of going under as well with the financial ****storm that would have followed].

 

I can go deeper into the mechanics of what happened but would probably put everyone to sleep, if they aren't already.

Where I live, food and supplies mostly depend on unionized unskilled with extortionate six figure incomes to not strike, such as a morse code officer (completely obsolete do-nothing job forced on company). There is a special national law that protects unions from charges of cross company monopolies (against consumers). Do you remember the abysmal quality of US cars in the days before imports broke their monopoly?

Yes and I remember last month GM--owned in part by the Autoworkers union--came out ahead of Toyota for the first time in perceived quality--specifically GMC & Chevrolet.

The recent bailout of GM (costing unrecoverable billions) was naked lawless populism. The bondholders were robbed... against hundreds of years of law saying they were the last to lose out! This is the traditional investment of widows and orphans, or at least pensions which suffer low returns for safety. But they were robbed because the unions were given the stock that is supposed to take the risk. I'm talking about the lawless way of the rescue, not whether there should have been breaks given to them (like the corp tax break they got).

Not even close to what happened. GM Corporation folded in a federal bankruptcy & is now Motor Liquidation Company. Period. A separate entity was the beneficiary of the bailout funds. As part of the dissolution it sold it's name and factories to another entity which was backed by money from the Ontario gov't, the UAW's pension fund and US gov't backed funds. The 'new' company is 'GM Company' and has no legal relationship with the old GM.

 

It wasn't populism by any measure it was sound economic policy. Letting GM and Chrysler go under would have driven steel, tire and other sub-contracting suppliers out of business. That possibility scared Ford so much that in spite of not accepting gov't money it's CEO went in front of Congress with GM and Chrysler's to ask for the bailout.

 

I have to laugh at the 'hundreds of years of bankruptcy law' thing going around. I'm not sure what law you're speaking of. I graduated from law school and what I remember is creditors always come ahead of shareholders. Shareholders are almost always wiped out in bankruptcy and have the last claim to assets.

 

The US Gov't lost $12 billion in bailout loans to GM. in 2011 alone the auto industry paid over $130 billion in state and federal taxes. The Austrians got their lunch handed to them on this and their theories certainly haven't risen in stature among economists in general though not on the far to fringe right.

Edited by Virgil61

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Recently finished Herodotus "Histories" and went on to Thucydides "The Peloponnesian War". They're the first two Greek histories we have in complete form and as different from each other as night & day.

Herodotus 'The Histories" reads in part like a travelogue, anthropological study of folk legends which operate as the background culminating in the history of the Persian-Greek war. Herodotus throws in fact and fallacy--I can't count the number of times he says "I don't necessarily believe this but they say...". He's an enjoyable read, he wants to entertain as well as teach.

The Barnes & Noble, Oxford and Penguin translations are all pretty good. I have them and read several chapters on each [got a degree in history, it's what history geeks do]. The Oxford is the most 'modern' (done five or so years ago), and the others are old translations 'modernized' by a couple of scholars. The Landmark Herodotus is a must have if you're at all serious about it. The translation is modern & solid but got mildly criticized (I thought it was very clearly written) but the maps and notes just set the bar for anything else. The problem as I wrote in an earlier post is that it's huge; a frickin' brick.

Thucydides is another story. He really doesn't care if you enjoy his work he's got a mission; to tell you how the war between the Greeks (post-Persian invasion conflict led by Sparta on one side & Athens on the other) was carried politically and militarily. He's a good guide, he was an Athenian general who screwed up his assignment, got exiled (which was common when you failed) & spent his exile working on The Peloponnesian Wars. He's often held up as an historical standard or the first history written in a 'facts only' dispassionate manner.

 

Thucydides is a lot more difficult to translate, even Greeks just a century later commented on this. He's wording is pretty complex and intricate for lack of a better way of putting it. Mary Beard claims he is untranslatable in terms of accuracy.

 

The Landmark Thucydides is pretty much the standard when it comes to maps and assistance in orienting yourself in his history. Trust me, a copy comes in handy no matter what other translation you use. The Barnes & Noble version is pretty good as well if not just for the footnotes at the bottom (thankfully). The editor is really good at adding to the narrative with small facts one normally wouldn't be aware of (and that Thucydides thinks you already know). Both use an updated translation by Crawley--each a slightly different.

 

For easier going definitely grab the Oxford Classics translation. It's modern and easy to read. The old Penguin by Rex Warner is the same though from the 50s, still pretty readable (Warner was a novelist as well). If you really want to get real buy the Hackett Publishing Steven Lattimore edition--his father is Richard Lattimore who did famous Homer translations. Lattimore's is supposed to be the closest in style to Thucydides.

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I am currently reading The Mythology of Plants: Botanical Lore from Ancient Greece and Rome a very beautiful looking book (as to be what you would expect from Getty Publishing) with loads of images. Another direction i might go is to start reading german books. There are many published gems that have never been translated to English....

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I've just downloaded the new Adrian Goldsworthy book on Augustus. Haven't started it yet but if it's anything like his previous biographies on Caesar and Anthony and Cleopatra then it should be a good read.

 

Other recently completed books are "The Sons of Caesar: Imperial Rome's First Dynasty", "The Sword of Rome" A Biography of Marcus Claudius Marcellus", and "The Secrets Of Rome: Love and Death in the Eternal City".

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