Would you like to have a digital identity card that is automatically issued to you at birth? In one European nation, residents use such a card when they go to the hospital, when they do their banking, when they go shopping and even when they vote. This card has become so popular that this particular European country actually plans to start issuing them to millions of non-citizens all over the planet who request them. Never heard about this? Neither had I before this week. The Economist is calling for the entire planet to adopt this “national identification system” that the little nation of Estonia has adopted. The Economist is touting all of the “benefits” of a “national identification card”, but are there dangers as well? Could adopting such a system potentially open the door for greater government tyranny than we have ever known before?
"Of all the economic bubbles that have been pricked, few have burst more spectacularly than the reputation of economics itself." – From The Economist, July 16, 2009.
Mainstream economists continue to dominate their profession and wield huge influence on public policies. They merely needed to close ranks after the financial crisis and wait for people to forget that their key theories and models were wholly discredited. Meanwhile, heterodox economists who stress credit market risks and financial fragilities – the Austrians, the Minskyites – remain stuck on the fringes of the field. It doesn’t much matter that the crisis validated their thinking. Nonetheless, we’ll continue to explain why we think a shake-up is overdue...“Mythbusting” the theories of mainstream economists.
Paul Krugman is at it again – distorting or misinterpreting work by other economists to attack critics of today’s central bank driven low interest rate environment and to defend policy status quo or to push for even more stimulus.
It is fortunate that Paul Krugman writes a column for New York Times readers who want the party line sans all the economist jargon and regression equations. So here is the plain English gospel straight from the Keynesian oracle: The US economy is actually a giant bathtub which is constantly springing leaks. Accordingly, the route to prosperity everywhere and always is for agencies of the state - especially its central banking branch - to pump “demand” back into the bathtub until its full to the brim. Simple.
How in the world does the government expect us to trust the economic numbers that they give us anymore? For a long time, many have suspected that they were being manipulated, and as you will see below it appears we now have proof that this is indeed the case.
The S&P500 has now gone 47 days without a gain or loss of more than 1% - a feat unmatched since 1995, according to AP. Overnight markets are having a weaker session across the board (except the US of course). Even the Nikkei is trading with a weak tone (-0.7%) seemingly unimpressed by the Third Arrow reform announcements from Prime Minister Abe yesterday (and considering in Japan the market is entirely dictated by the BOJ, perhaps they could have at least coordinated a "happy" reception of the revised Abe plan). Either that or they have largely been priced in following the sizable rally in Japanese stocks over the past month or so. Abe outlined about a dozen reforms yesterday including changes to the GPIF investment allocations and a reduction in the corporate tax rate to below 30% from the current level of 35%+. Separately, the Hang Seng Index (-0.06%) and the Shanghai Composite (-0.41%) 98closed lower as traders cited dilutive IPOs as a concern for future equity gains.
Yesterday, Ha-Joon Chang exposed the shortest economics textbook ever. Today the Cambridge University Economics professor uncovers everything you didn't know about economics (in 13 simple points)...
“Excessively low interest rates are inflationary because they mean that bonds, stocks, real estate and unincorporated businesses are capitalized at excessively high rates, and will fall in value even though the annual income they pay remains the same, if interest rates rise.” If interest rates were artificially low, it would follow that prevailing investment values are artificially high. I contend that they are, and you may or may not agree. Natural interest rates — free-range, organic, sustainable — are what we need. Hot-house interest rates — the government’s puny, genetically modified kind — are the ones we have.
The ever-rising ranks of youth unemployment coupled with the increasingly cheap and easy access to "distractions" from the dismal realities of life (if one is not a wealthy leveraged shareholder) mean a lot of potentially productive time is totally and utterly wasted in this world... how much time? As The Economist joking notes, the loony music video “Gangnam Style” surpassed two billion views on YouTube this week, making it the most watched clip of all time. At 4:12 minutes, that equates to more than 140m hours, or more than 16,000 years (the equivalent manpower it would take to build 4 Great Pyramids of Giza or 20 Empire State Buildings). The opportunity cost of watching PSY’s frivolity is huge, but humanity has at least been entertained.
“You know what the difference is between an Economist/Analyst, and a Business owner? When a Business owner makes a prediction on his or her business and is wrong – the business could wind up in bankruptcy. When the Economist/Analyst makes a wrong prediction about business – they just make another prediction.”
Paul Volcker Proposes A New Bretton Woods System To Prevent "Frequent, Destructive" Financial CrisesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/01/2014 19:32 -0400
We found it surprising that it was none other than Paul Volcker himself who, on May 21 at the annual meeting of the Bretton Woods Committee, said that "by now I think we can agree that the absence of an official, rules-based cooperatively managed, monetary system has not been a great success. In fact, international financial crises seem at least as frequent and more destructive in impeding economic stability and growth." We can, indeed, agree. However, we certainly disagree with Volcker's proposal for a solution to this far more brittle monetary system: a new Bretton Woods.
The mainstream media is latching on to the idea that all is not well in the world of 'markets'. The FT's Gillian Tett notes that, as we have vociferously explained, almost every measure of volatility has tumbled to unusual low levels, "this is bizarre," she notes, "financial history suggests that at this point in an economic cycle, volatility normally jumps." But investors are acting as if they were living in a calm and predictable universe, "[Investors in] the options markets are not pricing in any big macro risks. This is very unusual." In reality, as Hyman Minsky notes, market tranquility tends to sow the seeds of its own demise and the longer the period of calm, the worse the eventual whiplash. Tett concludes, that pattern played out back in 2007... and there are good reasons to suspect it will recur.
After the crisis, many expected that the blameworthy would be punished or at the least be required to return their ill-gotten gains—but they weren’t, and they didn’t. Many thought that those who were injured would be made whole, but most weren’t. And many hoped that there would be a restoration of the financial safety rules to ensure that industry leaders could no longer gamble the equity of their firms to the point of ruin. This didn’t happen, but it’s not too late. It is useful, then, to identify the persistent myths about the causes of the financial crisis and the resulting Dodd-Frank reform legislation and related implementation...."Plenty of people saw it coming, and said so. The problem wasn’t seeing, it was listening."
Last week we highlighted just how "rigged" the casino really is (real casinos - as opposed to the equity markets) and while that was shocking, the USA can be proud of another exceptionalism... As The Economist notes, at $119 billion in 2013, the United States was the biggest gambling loser in the world. However, on a per capita basis, Australia and Singapore top the list.