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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Comments on reads 10/12

Barak: Israel needs to rethink prisoner exchange policy
Livni "respects" gov't decision to make Schalit deal, warns of security consequences; Landau: Deal gives incentive for more kidnappings.
FP: Often Israel’s political system makes one despair. Now is Barak talking about rethinking prisoner exchange policy, after decades of demonstrating that Israel caves in to terror? And the utter failure that is Livni, whose government negotiated an even worse exchange with Hezbollah, releasing Samir Kuntar for dead soldiers, has the gall to warn of security consequences? It’s not the Palestinians that endanger Israel, it’s its own elite and the hostile West.
Regarding the deal, Netanyahu’s systematic record is one of caving in, so no surprise there. I would like to hope with JoshuaPundit:

But as with all things, there is one bright spot that occurs to me. While Gilad Shalit was being held hostage in Gaza, he remained a huge human shield for the Hamas regime. Once he's home,if hostilities break out between Israel and Hamas that shield is no longer in place and all bets are off.
But with Barak in charge of defense and the policy of appeasing the West, I would not bet too much on it.

Analysis: Hamas boosted, Fatah weakened by deal
Images of freed Palestinian prisoners will likely convince many Palestinians that Hamas is right.
FP: As I predicted, even though most Palestinians don’t need much convincing that Hamas is right. And the sad reality is that given Israel’s behavior, Hamas is right. It is much more effective in inflicting damage on Israel and getting what it wants out of it than the PA, which is what mostly matters to Palestinians.

Matt Taibbi: No-name Firm Takes Goldman's Crown
I caught a fascinating little blip on Zero Hedge today about a curious development in the New York Stock Exchange's weekly program trading reports.
Program trading is a kind of basket trading usually involving a dozen or more stocks, and usually done by computer – high-frequency trading falls under this category. ZH made a big name for itself on the internet a few years ago by asking questions about Goldman's enormous volumes of program trades in 2009, questions that may have led to the scandal involving Sergei Aleynikov, the ex-Goldman trader who was arrested for trying to steal Goldman's computer-trading program and deliver it to a competitor.
Readers might recall that at Aleynikov's arraignment that summer, a federal prosecutor asserted that Goldman was claiming that this program, if it fell into the "wrong hands," could be used to manipulate markets, a not-so-subtle admission that these computerized trading programs can be used to game the system by trading on knowledge gleaned fractions of a second ahead of the markets.
In any case, Goldman traditionally sits atop the NYSE's weekly reports about program trading volumes. But as ZH notes, they "just lost their crown in that field" to a firm called Latour Trading. From the ZH piece:
The new king. A firm called Latour Trading, which in the last week traded 484.6 million shares in principal strategies. Which begs the question: just who is this Latour Trading which dares to upstage the firm that does god's work on earth? Alas, their website has been less than forthright. Inquiring minds certainly want to know.
All the other companies on the list are household names – Deutsche, Barclays, Merrill, etc. But just who the fuck is Latour Trading? How does an unknown company with a blank website lead the entire world in computerized stock trades? And people wonder why there are protests outside Wall Street.
FP: Speculators continue to bring the West down. I recommend reading the comments on Taibbi’s piece, but one was probably closest to reality:
Too big to fail, too big to jail ...

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