10 Examples Of The Clueless Denial About The 'Real' Economy

They didn't see it coming last time either.  Back in 2007, President Bush, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and just about every prominent voice in the financial world were all predicting that we would experience tremendous economic prosperity well into the future.  In fact, as late as January 2008 Bernanke boldly declared that "the Federal Reserve is not currently forecasting a recession."  At the time, only the "doom and gloomers" were warning that everything was about to fall apart.  And of course we all know what happened.  But just a few short years later, history seems to be repeating itself. All of our "leaders" swear that everything is going to be okay.  You can believe them if you want, but denial is not just a river in Egypt, and another crash is inevitably coming.

Guest Post: A Community-Based Alternative To The Welfare State

Two of the key characteristics of an empire in terminal decline are complacency and intellectual sclerosis, what we have termed a failure of imagination. (The others are military over-reach, chronic deficits, a parasitic Elite that is immune to what's left of the rule of law, weak leadership, mass dependence on the Central State and excessive consumption.) It is important to discuss alternatives before the Status Quo devolves and collapses, so we have an intellectual framework to guide healthier, more sustainable alternatives once the current system implodes.

Sense And Nonsense

“‘Devaluing a currency,’ one senior Federal Reserve official once told me, ‘is like peeing in bed. It feels good at first, but pretty soon it becomes a real mess.’”

—Francesco Guerrera, The Wall Street Journal, 4 Feb 2013.

Not Keynes Or Kuznets Or Krugman But Cowperthwaite

It is not Keynes or Kuznets to whom should be looking, much less the ineffable Krugman, but the shining example of Sir John Cowperthwaite whose enlightened strategy of what he called ‘positive non-interventionism’ in 1960s Hong Kong— coupled with a near blanket ban on the collation of official statistics for fear their provision would tempt men into meddling (“If I let them compute those statistics, they’ll want to use them for planning.’’)—allowed the entrepôt to more than quadruple its GDP per capita (it really is a hard habit to break, isn’t it?) in comparison with its colonial masters in Britain, in the space of single generation. A man who eschewed tariffs in an era of protection; who abstained from government borrowing at a time when his peers were fast becoming ’all Keynesians now’; who capped income taxes at a modest 15% in an age when the rich were being ‘squeezed until their pips squeaked’; and who refused all acts of corporate welfare, Cowperthwaite’s assessment of his own role was characteristically modest, once declaring that, as regards his contribution to Hong Kong’s success, "I did very little. All I did was to try to prevent some of the things that might undo it."

Niall Ferguson Goes Searching For Paul Krugman's Embarrassing "Childhood Trauma"

Updated for Krugman's sociopathological response

Niall Ferguson "In my view Paul Krugman has done fundamental damage to the quality of public discourse on economics. He can be forgiven for being wrong, as he frequently is--though he never admits it. He can be forgiven for relentlessly and monotonously politicizing every issue. What is unforgivable is the total absence of civility that characterizes his writing. His inability to debate a question without insulting his opponent suggests some kind of deep insecurity perhaps the result of a childhood trauma. It is a pity that a once talented scholar should demean himself in this way."

Guest Post: Of Krugman And Minsky

Paul Krugman just did something mind-bending. In a recent column, he cited Minsky ostensibly to defend Alan Greenspan’s loose monetary policies. Krugman correctly identifies the mechanism here — prior to 2008, people forgot about risk.  Macroeconomic stability bred complacency. And the longer the perceived good times last, the more fragile the economy becomes, as more and more risky behaviour becomes the norm. Stability is destabilising. The Great Moderation was intimately connected to markets becoming forgetful of risk. And bubbles formed. In endorsing Minsky’s view, Krugman is coming closer to the truth. But he is still one crucial step away. If stability is destabilising, we must embrace the business cycle. Smaller cyclical booms, and smaller cyclical busts. Not boom, boom, boom and then a grand mal seizure.

Guest Post: 50 Signs That The U.S. Health Care System Is About To Collapse

The U.S. health care system is a giant money making scam that is designed to drain as much money as possible out of all of us before we die.  In the United States today, the health care industry is completely dominated by government bureaucrats, health insurance companies and pharmaceutical corporations. At this point, our health care system is a complete and total disaster.  Health care costs continue to go up rapidly, the level of care that we are receiving continues to go down, and every move that our politicians make just seems to make all of our health care problems even worse. At the same time, hospital administrators, pharmaceutical corporations and health insurance company executives are absolutely swimming in huge mountains of cash.  Unfortunately, this gigantic money making scam has become so large that it threatens to collapse both the U.S. health care system and the entire U.S. economy.

Biderman Blasts "Sequestration Bullshit" And The Government's Big Lie

The sequestration bullshit is driving TrimTabs' CEO Charles Biderman nuts - and rightly so. As we showed recently, the actual scale of the earth-shattering cuts, while not insignificant, are small and if the shills on TV preaching the end of the world from sequestration did the math they would see it is a mere 6% drop in non-entitlement government spending that is set to destroy the economy. Biderman exclaims, "what is apparent to me is that our government is becoming very good at the big lie," as they exaggerate any and everything to their own needs. It is obvious, he adds, "that our government is deeply committed to not reducing the size of government, and is willing to outright lie," but he saves the epic rant that we come to expect for Paul Krugman. Just as Irving Fisher's infamous 1929 pre-crash call that equities have reached a permanently high plateau; Biderman suggests Krugman will be remembered as erroneously claiming that 'deficits don't matter', as he reminds us of Emperor Caracella's 268AD reign of insidious taxation and currency debasement that ended in 1000% inflation and the end of the Roman Empire. Well worth the price of admission...

Radioactive Waste Is Leaking From Washington's Hanford Nuclear Reservation

And now for a quick lesson in government spending: in the 1940s the federal government created the now mostly decommissioned Washington's Hanford Nuclear Reservation as part of the Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb. During the Cold War, the project was expanded to include nine nuclear reactors and five large plutonium processing complexes, which produced plutonium for most of the 60,000 weapons in the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Sadly, many of the early safety procedures and waste disposal practices were inadequate, and government documents have since confirmed that Hanford's operations released significant amounts of radioactive materials into the air and the Columbia River. The weapons production reactors were decommissioned at the end of the Cold War, but the decades of manufacturing left behind 53 million US gallons of high-level radioactive waste, an additional 25 million cubic feet of solid radioactive waste, 200 square miles of contaminated groundwater beneath the site and occasional discoveries of undocumented contaminations that slow the pace and raise the cost of cleanup. The Hanford site represents two-thirds of the nation's high-level radioactive waste by volume. Today, Hanford is the most contaminated nuclear site in the United States and is the focus of the nation's largest environmental cleanup. The government spends $2 billion each year on Hanford cleanup — one-third of its entire budget for nuclear cleanup nationally. The cleanup is expected to last decades. It turns out that as Krugman would say, the government was not spending nearly enough, and moments ago Governor Jay Inslee said that six underground radioactive waste tanks at the nation's most contaminated nuclear site are leaking.

Guest Post: Currency Wars Are Trade Wars

Paul Krugman is all for currency wars, but not trade wars: "...First of all, what people think they know about past currency wars isn’t actually true... And in reality the stuff that’s now being called “currency wars” is almost surely a net plus for the world economy..." There is a serious intellectual error here, typical of much of the recent discussion of this issue. A currency war is by definition a low-level form of a trade war because currencies are internationally traded commodities. The intent (and there is much circumstantial evidence to suggest that Japan at least is acting with mercantilist intent, but that is another story for another day) is not relevant — currency depreciation is currency depreciation and still has the same effects on creditors and trade partners, whatever the claimed intent. The risks of disorder and disruption are still very real today.