It’s easy to be pessimistic over the future prospects of liberty when major industrialized nations around the world are becoming increasingly rife with market intervention, police aggression, and fallacious economic reasoning. The laissez faire ideal of a society where people should be allowed to flourish without the coercive impositions of the state is all but missing from mainstream debate. In editorial pages and televised roundtable discussions, a government policy of “hands off” is now an unspeakable option. It is presumed that lawmakers must step up to “do something” for the good of the people. Thankfully, this deliberate false choice will slowly but surely bring the death of itself. Illogical theories can only go on for so long before the push-back becomes too much to handle. For those who desire liberty, it’s a joy that the statist economic policies of the Keynesians become even more irrational as the Great Recession drags on. The two following examples will illustrate this point.
Some scary Ponzinomics...
With a price hovering around $1,600 an ounce and the prospect of "additional monetary accommodation" hinted to in the latest meeting of the FOMC, gold is once again becoming a hot topic of discussion. Krugman, praising 'The Atlantic's recent blustering anti-Gold-standard riff, points to gold's volatility, its relationship with interest rates (and general levels of asset prices - which we discussed here), and the number of 'financial panics' that occurred during gold-standards. These criticisms, while containing empirical data, are grossly deceptive. The information provided doesn’t support Krugman’s assertions whatsoever. Instead of utilizing sound economic theory as an interpreter of the data, Krugman and his Keynesian colleagues use it to prove their claims. Their methodological positivism has lead them to fallacious conclusions which just so happen to support their favored policies of state domination over money. The reality is that not only has gold held its value over time, those panics which Krugman refers to occurred because of government intervention; not the gold standard. Keynes himself was contemptuous of the middle class throughout his professional career. This is perhaps why he held such disdain for gold.
The bow-tied-and-bespectacled bringer-of-truth was on Bloomberg TV this morning providing his own clarifying perspective on what we should hope for (and what we should not) from J-Hole this weekend. Jim Grant's acerbic comments on Krugman's view of the world, on the gold standard as a "force for growth and stability", and the "unproven and truly radical methods" of the SNB and Fed, pale in significance when he is asked about the stock market distortions: "I think we live in a hall of mirrors in finance thanks to the zero interest rate regime and the chronic nonstop interventions," and when asked when Bernanke should start raising rates, the simple (yet complex) response is "Last Year! And Eric Rosengren would be in a different line of work." Must watch to understand the central-banker-meme-du-decade.
Welcome to the new America — where banks must be protected at all costs. Whether it’s a bailout or a trumped up charge to silence a protestor, if the banks want it, they get it. The district attorney in the case has dropped the charge of attempted robbery. However, a terroristic threat charge remains. Meanwhile, the economic evidence is mounting that countries that want to recover need to tell the banks to take a hike.
Iceland Shows the Way
Two days ago, historian Niall Fergsuon had the temerity to voice a personal opinion, one which happens to not exactly jive with the rest of the media's take on current events, on the cover page of Newsweek (Newsweek is still in print?) titled, succinctly enough, "Hit the road Barack: Why we need a new president." The response was fast, furious, and brutal, particularly emanating from what Ferguson has dubbed the "liberal blogosphere." Naturally in an election year, said blogosphere has much CPM-generating rumination to do (after all who knows what happens to all those ad revenues if the US corporate base implodes and all that cash on the sidelines stays there due to "policy uncertainty"), so Ferguson merely provided the chum in the water (once the time comes to pick up the calculators again after the presidential election, things will immediately quiet down but until then there is, sadly, at least two more months of ever rising cacophony). So did Ferguson back off having said his piece? Hell no. In fact, he has just made sure that the "liberal blogosphere" is will be burning the midnight oil for weeks to come engaged in completely meaningless point-counterpoint between itself and the historian, when, in reality nothing changes the simple fact that come August 2016, the US will have a simply idiotic 130%+ debt/GDP completely independent of who is in the White House, or in other words, there very well may not be another presidential election. For now, however, we have much needed bread and circuses. Below is Ferguson's just released interview from Bloomberg TV in which he responds to the salient accusations that have been leveled at him (a more essayistic version can be found here).
Chautauqua Notes | Ethical Challenges of Finally Fixing the Financial Crisis: Fair Deals vs. New DealsSubmitted by rcwhalen on 08/09/2012 06:48 -0500
From the perspective of ethics, the fiscal profligacy of the US government and related behavior in the private sector is the cause of the financial crisis
Emotion, while an important element in man’s array of mental tools, can unfortunately triumph over reason in crucial matters. In the context of simple economic reasoning, today’s intellectual establishment often disregards common sense in favor of emotional-tinged policy proposals that rely on feelings of jealously, envy, and blind patriotism for validation rather than logical deduction. “Eat the rich” schemes such as progressive taxation and income redistribution are used by leftists who style themselves as champions of the poor. Plucking on the emotional strings of envy makes it easier to arouse widespread support for economic intervention via the state. Printed money is not the same as accumulated savings which would otherwise fund sustainable lines of investment. The truth is that capital is always scarce; there is never enough of it. Krugman and Stiglitz believe, as most do, that Americans should be born with the opportunity to succeed. What they fail to see (or refuse to acknowledge) is that the free market provides the best opportunities for someone to make a decent living by providing goods and services.
Human nature hasn’t changed in centuries. We have faith that humanity has progressed, but the facts prove otherwise. We are a species susceptible to the passions of power, greed, delusion, and an inflated sense of our own intellectual superiority. And we still like to kill each other in the name of country and honor. There is nothing progressive about crashing the worldwide economic system and invading countries for “our” oil. History has taught that there will forever be manias, bubbles and the subsequent busts, but how those in power deal with these episodes has been and will be the determining factor in the future of our economic system and country. Humanity is deeply flawed; the average human life is around 80 years; men of stature, wealth, over-confidence in their superior intellect, and egotistical desire to leave their mark on history, always rise to power in government and the business world; this is why history follows a cyclical path and the myth of human progress is just a fallacy.
Some odds and ends, plus a very scary report on China
If the political tsunami underway in Maine is any indicator, the November 2012 election will be fascinating and unpredictable
Every summer, my colleagues and I invite young people from all over the world for an intensive 4-day workshop about freedom and entrepreneurship. This year’s workshop just concluded yesterday afternoon, and it was, without doubt, the best one ever. For the past several years, we have been conducting this event at a lovely resort in the Lithuanian countryside. It’s a pretty place– a nice, comfortable, relaxing environment away from all the noise and distraction of daily life. Now, I pay for the whole thing myself. I rent out the entire resort and pick up the total cost of food, lodging, entertainment, etc. For this year’s event, my staff was able to negotiate the same price as last year, and I was happy about this. But after the first two days, we began to notice something different: the resort was actually skimping out on our food portions! In other words, they kept the price the same as last year… but they were delivering less value than before. In this case, it was in the form of food portions that were at least 10% smaller!
While some have talked of the 'credit-easing' possibility a la Bank of England (which Goldman notes is unlikely due to low costs of funding for banks already, significant current backing for mortgage lending, and bank aversion to holding hands with the government again), there remains a plethora of options available for the Fed. From ZIRP extensions, lower IOER, direct monetization of fiscal policy needs, all the way to explicit USD devaluation (relative to Gold); BofAML lays out the choices, impacts, and probabilities in this handy pocket-size cheat-sheet that every FOMC member will be carrying with them next week.
As the flow of subsidies from Washington slowly ebbs, the TBTF banks will begin to feed upon one another...