Why does the old style system still persist even though it is already demonstrably inferior? In addition to the financial disincentives, there is another reason: the current system retains a monopoly on assessing student learning and granting credit for demonstrated accomplishment. The schools are able to do this because they have arranged a monopoly on accreditation. This is ultimately a grant of state power. As a result, modern colleges and universities have collectively become a rent-seeking cartel, an alliance of nominally competitive institutions that maintains a highly profitable monopoly of accreditation.
President Obama announced this weekend that he has decided to use military force against Syria and would seek authorization from Congress when it returned from its August break. Every Member ought to vote against this reckless and immoral use of the US military. But even if every single Member and Senator votes for another war, it will not make this terrible idea any better because some sort of nod is given to the Constitution along the way. Besides, the president made it clear that Congressional authorization is superfluous, asserting falsely that he has the authority to act on his own with or without Congress. That Congress allows itself to be treated as window dressing by the imperial president is just astonishing... We are rapidly headed for the same collapse as the Roman Empire if we continue down the president's war path.
History is very clear: societies that organize themselves around a tiny elite who thinks they should control the entire system suffer a 100% failure rate, without exception. Today’s system shares similar fundamentals to nearly every other case of failed empire. And it’s foolish to think that this time will be any different.
Projections based on high rates of endless growth are delusional. Those who embrace these projections are equally delusional. Attacking critics who have taken the time to study the data and trends is not going to magically make these programs sustainable or fix what's broken. Placing one's faith in government projections that always forecast high rates of endless growth (because "growth" fixes everything) is embracing delusion. Reality trumps accounting trickery and delusional projections every time. Let's see how accurate all the government agency projections (including the SSA Trustees) turn out in September 2015, at the end of fiscal year 2015.
With the Snowden saga, it seems suddenly, the idea that there should be a limit to governments has resuscitated; wherever the governments and whatever the limits are. But there is indeed a limit and the global collective mind is trying to figure it out...
Whether or not you believe PMs will serve as the ultimate store of wealth as the global fiat monetary system collapses should have absolutely no bearing on making the intelligent decision to remove your financial assets from under the domain and inevitable confiscation of global bankers and their State-run tyrannies. Independence Day is a fine day to start the process of taking back our freedoms from the tyrants that rule over us.
The key dynamic here is once the low-hanging fruit have all been plucked, it becomes much more difficult to achieve high growth rates. That cycle is speeding up, it seems; western nations took 100 years to rapidly industrialize and then slip into failed models of stagnation; Japan took only 40 years to cycle through to stagnation, and now China has picked the low-hanging fruit and reverted to financialization, diminishing returns and rapidly rising debt after a mere 30 years of rapid growth.... there is another dangerous dynamic in any systemic reform: the very attempt to reform an unstable, diminishing-return system often precipitates its collapse. The leadership recognizes the need for systemic reform, but changing anything causes the house of cards to collapse in a heap. This seems to describe the endgame in the USSR, where Gorbachev's relatively modest reforms unraveled the entire empire.
The Fed has created a Doomsday Machine. The Fed has nurtured moral hazard in every sector of the economy by unleashing an abundance of cheap credit and low interest mortgages; the implicit promise of "you can't lose because we have your back" has been extended from stocks to bonds (i.e. the explicit promise the Fed will keep rates near-zero forever) and real estate. An abundance based on the central bank spewing trillions of dollars of cheap credit and free money (quantitative easing) is artificial, and it has generated systemic moral hazard. This is a Doomsday Machine because the Fed cannot possibly backstop tens of trillions of dollars of bad bets on stocks, bonds and real estate. Its power is as illusory as the abundance it conjured. This loss of faith in key institutions cannot be fixed with more cheap credit or subsidized mortgages; delegitimization triggers a fatal decoherence in the entire Status Quo.
All Empires Crash Soon After They Reach Their Peak
All of the EU “hails, welcomes and applauds” the new Italian government. Mr. Grillo thinks that the new government will last but a few scant months as Europe breathes a sigh of relief that the 5 Star Party is not in control. Far better to deal with the devils that you know rather than new ones that may be far worse. Beyond the politics of the moment Italy is besieged by a very serious crisis. As the various central banks dump money into the system the yields on Italian sovereign debt have gone down but this does not change the economic difficulties. Italy’s difficult position was enumerated in a Bank of Italy report to parliament last week which said the economy was going through its most acute crisis since World War II. Mr. Grillo’s response to the new government was amusing: “An orgy worthy of bunga bunga.”
In a slight digression from the usual pure market-based discussions of Jeremy Grantham's perspectives, the fund manager addresses what is potentially and even more critical factor for the markets. As he writes, we are in a race for our lives, as our global economy, reckless in its use of all resources and natural systems, shows many of the indicators of potential failure that brought down so many civilizations before ours. By sheer luck, though, ours has two features that might just save our bacon: declining fertility rates and progress in alternative energy. Our survival might well depend on doing everything we can to encourage their progress. Vested interests, though, defend the status quo effectively and the majority much prefers optimistic propaganda to uncomfortable truth and wishful thinking rather than tough action. It is likely to be a close race.
Benjamin Franklin was right. Ultra-committed separatist groups, extremists, and all-around bad guys can always find a soft target. Guard the airport and they’ll blow up the bus station. Guard the bus station and they’ll take out a public park. Constant security, paramilitarism, and steady erosion of freedom constitute an enormous price to pay for a false sense of safety against bad people.
The imperial tree falls not because the challenges are too great but because the core of the tree has been weakened by the gradual loss of surplus, purpose, institutional effectiveness, intellectual vigor and productive investment. Comparing the American Empire with the Roman Empire in its terminal decline is a popular intellectual parlor game. The comparison is inexact on a number of fronts but despite the apparent difference, the two empires share the key characteristic of all enduring empires: they extract the cost of maintaining the empire from client states and/or allies. The mechanisms differ, but the results are the same: the empire's cost is distributed to those who benefit from its secure trade routes.
Are bitcoins better than fiat currencies? Of course. Are they immune from banker manipulation? Possibly but the verdict is still out. Are BTCs sound money? No.
It is hard to make sense of the markets these days. For instance, gold showed no support while the geopolitical situation in Asia deteriorated, Japan embarked in the mother of all monetization programs, and a member nation of what is supposed to be a monetary union was imposed controls on the movement of capital. Or take the case of the Euro, which jumped from $1.2750 to $1.2950 on the day of one of the most confusing and embarrassing press conferences the president of its central bank ever gave. However, in a faraway land, where there is no shadow banking, leverage or even capital markets, economic fundamentals still hold, which can help us, inhabitants of the developed world, visualize a dynamics lost in the shelves of our collective memory. The land we are referring to is Argentina, but not Argentina of 2001. Today, we want to write about Argentina of 2013, and no, we will not discuss their legal battles with Mr. Singer.