Ludwig von Mises
With US President Obama now seeking authorization from Congress to attack Syria, the already spirited debate surrounding the advisability of such military action is bound to get even more lively in the coming days.
Whenever the state decides to remove the mask of decency and show its true, violent self, there is a positive outcome to the predation. Many finally catch a glimpse of the true force that backs monopoly government. Very few will allow this image to change their preconceived notions of the viability of institutionalized mass representation. The targeted harassment of dissenters is indicative of the state’s brash reaction to all challenges. It’s a task of extreme difficulty to pinpoint where the downward slide began. The rise of statism, moral relativism, and total war has undeniably had a negative effect on how individuals view themselves in civilized society. The degree of degeneration varies between areas, but it’s not hard to recognize the causal effect.
The economic theory behind why minimum wage hikes are not good for prosperity is so simple and has been repeated so many times, it’s almost not worth addressing anymore. Yet every year, some ill-informed politician comes out loudly proclaiming that higher wages mandated by the government will help the poor and reduce income inequality, so apparently we have to keep going down this road until it sinks in.
As Western economies start to regress in earnest following decades of failed and destructive monetary inflation and debt accumulation, yield-starved investors are allocating real capital to the one industrially untapped continent in the world: Africa. However, we’re not seeing industry moving to Africa to set up shop. Rather, politically-directed capital flowing into the African resources sector is fueling and financing the strongest consumer boom in the world. It’s a vendor financing model for Asia, and it portends a major boom and bust cycle for the African continental economy.
John Adams famously described the American government as being “of laws and not men.” The managerial state has wiped clean that wisdom in favor of countless and arbitrary dictates enforced by worthless bodies. The narcolepsy-inducing USA Today recently reported the Federal Bureau of Investigation granted informants immunity to break government law in certain circumstances. Newly disclosed documents reveal that thousands of so-dubbed “crimes” were committed in 2011 by the FBI’s pet players. The misdeeds include drug trafficking, plotting robberies, and bribery. Last year, the New York Times published a damning report on how the good-natured agents of Washington’s infamous law investigator work tirelessly at foiling terrorist plots they go to great lengths at concocting. These faux plots of destruction are used to beef up the reputation of the agency so as to solidify its monopoly of police power. The selective enforcement of law negates the very purpose of social order. How can there be a universally recognized limits to mankind’s behavior if a minority are permitted to disregard governing laws? The result is a contradiction – either the law applies everywhere or it does not.
On August 6th, the small town of Deer Trail, Colorado is set to vote on an ordinance that will permit the hunting of unmanned surveillance drones. The author of the ordinance, Phillip Steel, claims the gesture is “symbolic.” A handful of other American states are pursuing measures to limit the spying operations of Uncle Sam’s unmanned aerial vehicles. One has to be either lying or painfully ignorant to believe government will not abuse surveillance drones. State officials have rarely failed to use their capacity to terrify the populace. The prospect of around-the-clock surveillance is a chilling thought and one that should not be taken lightly. Unfortunately the only means to achieve some semblance of privacy requires a luddite approach to technology and a hermit’s approach to community. Otherwise, you avail yourself to the terror of visibility in what should otherwise be, in Thomas Paine’s words, the blessing of society.
According to most commentators, although not an easy task, experienced and wise policy makers should be able to navigate the US economy away from various bad side effects that come in response to a tighter Fed stance. We suggest that whenever the Fed raises the pace of monetary pumping in order to “revive” the economy it in fact creates a supportive platform for various non-productive bubble activities that divert real wealth from wealth generators. Whenever the US central bank curbs the monetary pumping this weakens the diversion of real wealth and undermines the existence of bubble activities - it generates an economic bust. We suggest that there is no way that the Fed can tighten its stance without setting in motion an economic bust. This would defy the law of cause and effect.
One of the sad narratives of the financial meltdown of 2008 and its aftermath is that it was and remains the result of unbridled capitalism. Too much freedom spoiled the economic broth. We must never tire of explaining the fallacies in the thinking of those who think the Great Recession is a clear case of the failure of capitalism. In fact, it is a quintessential example of the failures of interventionism to bring about anything other than economic destruction and relative impoverishment.
At the end of the day, Friedman jettisoned the gold standard for a remarkable statist reason. Just as Keynes had been, he was afflicted with the economist’s ambition to prescribe the route to higher national income and prosperity and the intervention tools and recipes that would deliver it. The only difference was that Keynes was originally and primarily a fiscalist, whereas Friedman had seized upon open market operations by the central bank as the route to optimum aggregate demand and national income. The greatest untoward consequence of the closet statism implicit in Friedman’s monetary theories, however, is that it put him squarely in opposition to the vision of the Fed’s founders. As has been seen, Carter Glass and Professor Willis assigned to the Federal Reserve System the humble mission of passively liquefying the good collateral of commercial banks when they presented it. Consequently, the difference between a “banker’s bank” running a discount window service and a central bank engaged in continuous open market operations was fundamental and monumental. In short, the committee of twelve wise men and women unshackled by Friedman’s plan for floating paper dollars would always find reasons to buy government debt, thereby laying the foundation for fiscal deficits without tears.
When it comes to deflation, mainstream economics becomes not the science of common sense, but the science of nonsense. Most economists today are quick to say, “a little inflation is a good thing,” and they fear deflation. Of course, in their personal lives, these same economists hunt the newspapers for the latest sales. The person who epitomizes this fear of deflation best is Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve.
Someone once wrote that criticizing economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and his "vulgar Keynesianism" is the internet’s favorite pastime. All along, the Princeton prof has stayed true to the cause of aggressive government action to forestall the downtrodden economy. Large fiscal expenditures, aggressive monetary stimulus, increased legal privileges for organized labor, and boosting the degree of state pillaging – Krugman is the caricature of a tyrannical apologizer who will defend the cause of rampant statism at any cost. But now, it appears Krugman has gone overboard with his progressive moaning. Instead of getting bogged down in the economic imbecility that frequents Krugman’s twice-weekly diatribes; there is a fallacy more fundamental in this latest theorizing. What Krugman is embracing in his latest attack on historical cases has much more to do with the man’s epistemological bent and approach toward economics.
The Vietnamese Central Bank sold another 25,700 taels (37.5 grams, 1.2 troy ounces) at a gold bar auction on Friday in order to try and satiate the massive public demand for gold in Vietnam.
The Central Bank hopes that the sale of gold into the market will reduce the very high premiums paid by gold buyers in Vietnam, the largest buyer of gold in Southeast Asia after Thailand and one of the largest physical buyers of gold per capita in the world.
Vietnamese people hold gold as a store of wealth for protection against war, inflation and currency depreciation. In recent months, the bursting of bubbles in the stock market (see chart) and property market and the continuing devaluation of the dong has led to record demand in Vietnam and a surging premium over the spot price of gold.
Today, the premium was close to 5.5 million dong which is the equivalent of a very high premium of $217 per ounce over spot.
Almost three years ago we first highlighted the real math behind the surging entitlement class that America has become. So why does a large portion of the population choose not to work when there are many jobs available? The answer is simple. If you can receive 2-3 times as much money from unemployment, disability, and/or welfare benefits (subsidized housing, food stamps, free cellphones, etc.) as you can from a temporary or part-time job, and live a life of leisure, why work? This is the ugly reality we illustrated just six months ago and the situation - amid what is apparently called a 'recovery' remains a depressingly real sign of the times. The political allure of free is so strong that an alarming number of people choose to become wards of the entitlement/welfare state rather than captain their own destiny. Indeed, while many are 'proud', 49% of American households now receive one or more government transfer benefits amounting to 18% of all personal income and a burden of $7,400 for every American - seemingly threatening the supposed self-reliance that has long characterized the American national psyche.
The days of reasonable economic forecasting are over. Today, an economic forecast is more like the analysis of a criminal mind than the evaluation of economic data. The dominating role of government overpowers markets intentionally. In the short-term that will continue. Reactions to Federal Reserve minutes referencing continuation, alteration or cessation of quantitative easing cause stock markets to move by over 100 points. Other markets are affected by government interventions, just not so noticeably. Long term, markets will overpower government. Welfare states can no longer maintain their level of spending, services and welfare. However, they dare not stop lest civil unrest and violence break out. The bind they are in has no solution. Governments around the world are doing whatever is necessary to survive. Lying, stealing and outright confiscation will begin in order to support their bankruptcies. Cyprus was a minor precursor of what is coming.
Earlier this month, in an article for “Project Syndicate” famous American economist Nouriel Roubini joined the chorus of those who declare that the multi-year run up in the gold price was just an almighty bubble, that that bubble has now popped and that it will continue to deflate. Gold is now in a bear market, a multi-year bear market, and Roubini gives six reasons (he himself helpfully counts them down for us) for why gold is a bad investment. His arguments for a continued bear market in gold range from the indisputably accurate to the questionable and contradictory to the simply false and outright bizarre. But what is most worrying, and most disturbing, is Roubini’s pathetic attempt to label gold bugs political extremists. It is evident from Roubini’s essay that he not only considers the gold bugs to be wrong and foolish, they also annoy him profoundly. They anger him. Why? – Because he thinks they also have a “political agenda”. Gold bugs are destructive. They are misguided and even dangerous people.