Guest Post

Guest Post: Krugman Claims He Has Been Right About Everything

I don’t think Krugman’s descriptive work on global trade patterns is bad. I don’t even think he has been completely wrong about the post-2008 economic depression. He certainly hasn’t been wronger than the people who are in charge in Europe, or the people running the Fed; he did, after all warn in 2005 that the Fed was “running out of bubbles” to reinflate, while Bernanke was still claiming in 2007 that subprime was contained. I do think his defence of broken windows is facile, and I think the notion he has advanced that World War 2 ended the Great Depression is not just wrong but dangerous. He’s a good polemicist; he defines himself through big, bold, wildly partisan claims. But if he’s going to claim that he’s been right about everything — as he just did — he might want to make sure he’s not directly contradicting statements he made just a week previous.

Guest Post: The Master Narrative Nobody Dares Admit: Centralization Has Failed

The primary "news" narrative may be the failure of the euro, but the master narrative is much, much bigger: centralization has failed. The failure of Europe's "ultimate centralization project" is but a symptom of a global failure of centralization. Though many look at China's command-economy as proof that the model of Elite-controlled centralization is a roaring success, let's check in on China's stability and distribution of prosperity in 2021 before declaring centralization an enduring success. The pressure cooker is already hissing and the flame is being turned up every day. What's the key driver of this master narrative? Technology, specifically, the Internet. Gatekeepers and centralized authority are no match for decentralized knowledge and decision-making. Once a people don't need to rely on a centralized authority to tell them what to do, the centralized authority becomes a costly impediment, a tax on the entire society and economy. In a cost-benefit analysis, centralization once paid significant dividends. Now it is a drag that only inhibits growth and progress. The Eurozone is the ultimate attempt to impose an intrinsically inefficient and unproductive centralized authority on disparate economies, and we are witnessing its spectacular implosion. Centralization acts as a positive feedback, i.e. a self-reinforcing loop that leads to a runaway death spiral.

Guest Post: Who Destroyed The Middle Class - Part 2

The middle class has a gut feeling they are being screwed by somebody, they just can’t figure out who to blame. The ultra-wealthy elite keep up an endless cacophony of propaganda and misinformation designed to confuse an increasingly uneducated and willfully ignorant public while blurring the facts for those educated few capable of understanding the truth. They have been able to keep the masses dumbed down through government run education; distracted by sports, reality TV, Facebook, internet porn, and igadgets; lured by mass media messages of materialism; and shackled with the chains of debt used to acquire the goods sold by mega-corporations. We’ve become a society oppressed by a small faction of ultra-wealthy masters served by millions of impoverished, uneducated, sedated slaves. But the slaves are getting restless and angry. The illegally generated wealth disparity chasm is growing so large that even the ideologue talking head representatives of the elite are having difficulty spinning it. Even uneducated rubes understand when they are getting pissed on.

Guest Post: What’s next…

One of the things that’s really unique about this part of the world is having access to so many people with first-hand experience of living under Soviet rule. It’s a bizarre thing to say, but the stories they have to tell are extraordinary. ast night I had dinner with some friends, including one woman who was just a child at the end of World War II. She explained to me that her family had been wealthy landowners near the capital city… until the Soviet-controlled government came in, confiscated all of their property, and shipped the adults off to Siberia. “There were so many opportunities to leave beforehand,” she explained, ”but they just never thought things would ever get that bad here. Everyone saw what happened in other countries, but my family never expected that it would happen to them.” While most people probably aren’t going to end up in Siberia anytime soon, the lesson is still valuable.

Guest Post: Abandoning Ship - The Eurozone Is Failing At An Accelerating Rate

Despite what her officials say publicly, austerity has limited support within the ECB itself, because it is run at the top by neoclassical economists. Instead, the real constraint is Germany, whose citizens’ savings are on the line and which faces the prospect of its third currency collapse in a century. So this is where the lines are drawn up: spendthrifts desperate for more money, a conflicted central bank, and Germany. Angela Merkel has made considerable progress in pushing the German electorate in a direction that is completely against its instincts by playing the political card marked “there is no alternative.” With her considerable political skills, she may be able to push her people some more, but it is becoming increasingly difficult, because everyone in Germany can see that committing real savings to bailing out the spendthrifts only wipes out the savings. These are not euros simply conjured out of thin air, because the Bundesbank cannot print them and probably wouldn’t do so anyway. But the pressure is mounting on her, and she is being squeezed by governments such as the British and the Americans, who are now panicking over the consequences of failure. This is why both countries went public last week, with David Cameron even visiting Merkel in person. It is a sure indication that major governments outside the Eurozone are beginning to expect the worst, and that unless Germany gives way, it will happen quickly.

Guest Post: The Housing Recovery - Based On What?

The real estate industry announces the housing recovery is finally underway every year. 2012 is no different from previous years: various positive data points are duly cherry-picked (multiple offers are back in West Hollywood, sales are up year-over-year in Las Vegas, inventory is down, etc.) to back up the claim the "bottom is in" and the recovery in sales and prices is rock-solid. We understand the industry's extreme self-interest in attempting to re-inflate housing, but let's begin with the obvious question: what's the housing recovery based on? The standard answer is of course "super-low mortgage rates, courtesy of the Federal Reserve."  But people need a sufficient income to qualify to own a house, regardless of rates, so let's look at income by age, and focus on the key homebuying ages of 25 to 44. The only age group whose incomes continued rising during the past five years is the over 65 cohort--the very group who is "downsizing" or selling their homes to live in assisted living. The key homebuying cohorts have seen their incomes plummet since the housing bubble popped.

Guest Post: The Economic Abuse Of Veterans In America

Volunteering to join the military has always been a process rife with internal and external conflictions.  A vital aspect of one’s ultimate decision to do so often depends greatly upon the era in which one becomes eligible.  U.S. citizens leaped at the chance to defend their country at the onset of World War II because the enemies were indeed a legitimate and obvious threat to the freedom and sovereignty of all nations.  During Vietnam, the waters were muddied (at least in the view of millions of citizens), and many Americans did not see the fight as their own.  The line between our system, and the enemies we were supposed to despise, had become progressively more foggy and disjointed.  For any wise and honorable man to go out of his way to risk his life, the fight must be clearly just, otherwise, he may feel that his death will serve no purpose.  No matter what era of war an American soldier happens to take part in, his desire is usually simple and honest; most seek to defend the underlying principles of freedom which have guided the soul of this country for generations.  They seek a righteous cause, and transparent leadership.  Unfortunately, for decades, sincere leadership by our government, from Washington D.C. down to the good-old-boy networks of county politics, has all but been erased.  Not even a trace of truth permeates the bedrock of our legal or bureaucratic structure anymore.  The system has become so corrupt, so leprous and putrid, that it now actually influences originally honorable men and women to do great evil just to survive and to thrive.  Our administrative structure encourages and even breeds thieves, murderers, and tyrants.  It is a self-perpetuating monster machine. 

Guest Post: Public-Private Partnership - Another Phrase for Fascism

The word “privatization” is a loaded term these days.  Unions and big government worshippers scoff at the idea of any public services being in the hands of ruthless, greedy capitalists.  The left has the distorted view that people in the private sector are driven primarily by their desire to cut costs and throw workers out on the street.  To them, government workers are angels sent from heaven to do God’s work. In our world of unceasing centralization of power, lawmakers are finding more deceptive ways to mask their lust for dominance.  Public-private partnerships are the embodiment of what Mussolini dubbed “corporatism;” that is the “merger of state and corporate power.”  Under corporatism, the ruling class is able to expand unbeknownst to the Boobus Americanus and its equivalent in other countries.  The Average Joe still has his wallet forcefully stripped of its contents but now the state’s cronies get to partake in the plunder.  Meanwhile the same big businessmen who benefit from government privilege still maintain their praise for free markets while working with politicians to forcefully subdue their competition. There is actually another, more accurate term for public-private partnerships.  It’s called fascism; plain and simple.

Guest Post: Who Destroyed The Middle Class? (Part 1)

“Over the last thirty years, the United States has been taken over by an amoral financial oligarchy, and the American dream of opportunity, education, and upward mobility is now largely confined to the top few percent of the population. Federal policy is increasingly dictated by the wealthy, by the financial sector, and by powerful (though sometimes badly mismanaged) industries such as telecommunications, health care, automobiles, and energy. These policies are implemented and praised by these groups’ willing servants, namely the increasingly bought-and-paid-for leadership of America’s political parties, academia, and lobbying industry.” – Charles Ferguson

Once you dig into the details beneath the thin veneer of Bernaysian obfuscation, you realize the corporate mainstream media storyline of middle class decline has a veiled storyline of a powerful, connected 1%, enriched at the expense of the middle class.

Guest Post: Springtime For The Military-Industrial Complex

America is spending more today drone-striking American citizens in Yemen, drone-surveilling Mexican drug lords and “turning our attention to the vast potential of the Asia-Pacific region“ than she was during the cold war when a hostile superpower had thousands of nukes pointing at her. Military contractors have nothing to fear. Whether it is the Pacific buildup to contain Chinese ambition, or drone strikes in the horn of Africa or Pakistan, or the completely-failed drug war, or using the ghost of Kony to establish a toehold in Africa to compete with China for African minerals, or an attempted deposition of Bashar Assad or Egypt’s new Islamist regime, or bombing Iran’s uranium-enrichment facilities, or a conflict over mineral rights in the Arctic, or (as Paul Krugman desires — and what the heck, it’s 2012, why not?) an alien invasion, or a new global conflict arising out of a global economic reset, it’s springtime for the military contractors. It’s everyone else who should be worried.

Guest Post: Is TARGET2 A Less Than Thinly Veiled Bailout For Europe's Periphery?

Recently, there has been an intense debate in Europe on the TARGET2 system (Trans-European Automated Real-time Gross Settlement Express Transfer System 2), which is the joint gross clearing system of the eurozone the interpretation of this system and its balances has provoked divergent opinions. Some economists, most prominently Hans-Werner Sinn, have argued that TARGET2 amounts to a bailout system. Others have vehemently denied that. Philipp Bagus adresses the question of whether this 'mysterious' system, that we have been so vociferously discussing, simply amounts to an undercover bailout system for unsustainable living standards in the periphery? Concluding by comparing TARGET2, Eurobonds, and the ESM, he notes that all three 'devices' serve as a bailout system and form a tranfer union but governments prefer to hide the losses on taxpayers as long as possible and prefer the ECB to aliment deficits in the meantime.

Guest Post: Greek Theater Double-Feature: A Farce And A Tragi-Comedy

Imagine a ship with 100 passengers and crew drifting down a river that eventually cascades over a 1,000 foot waterfall. It's easy to plot the ship's course and the waterfall ahead. You might think 100% of those onboard would agree that something drastic must be done to either reverse course or abandon ship, but before we jump to any conclusion we must first identify what each of the 100 people perceive as serving their self-interest. If life onboard is good for 55 of the 100, they may well rationalize away the waterfall dead ahead. Indeed, they might vote to maintain the current course, thus dooming the 45 others who can hear the thundering cascade ahead but who are powerless to change course in a democracy. This is the "tyranny of the majority" feared by some of the American Founding Fathers. I cannot locate reliable statistics on what percentage of the Greek population is dependent on the State for a paycheck, entitlement, retirement, disability, unemployment, etc., but I suspect the number exceeds the full-time private payroll of that nation. It seems likely that the number of voters in Greece who draw a check or benefit from the State exceeds the number of privately employed voters whose perception of self-interest is radically at odds with continuing State borrowing to fund the Status Quo. If 55% of the voting public is dependent on government spending, then they will vote to continue that spending regardless of its unsustainability.

Guest Post: How to Save Your Money And Your Life

You should do the following.

  1. Maintain significant bank and brokerage accounts outside your home country. Consider setting up an offshore asset protection trust. These things aren't as easy to do as they used to be. But they'll likely be much less easy in the future.
  2. Make sure you have a significant portion of your wealth in precious metals and a significant part of that offshore.
  3. Buy some nice foreign real estate, ideally in a place where you wouldn't mind spending some time.
  4. Work on getting official residency in another country, as well as a second citizenship/passport. There's every advantage to doing so, and no disadvantages. That's true of all these things.

One more thing: Don't worry too much. All countries seem to go through nasty phases. Within the lifetime of most people today, we've seen it in big countries such as Russia, Germany and China. And in scores of smaller ones – the list is too long to recount here. The good news is that things almost always get better, eventually.

Guest Post: The Experiment Has Failed. Are You Ready?

After about an hour’s worth of air traffic congestion delays around JFK airport, I finally departed New York City yesterday evening en route for Vilnius, Lithuania… one of my favorite inconspicuous corners of Europe. The route took me through Helsinki, Finland for a brief connection, and I was on the ground long enough to witness something truly bizarre: a complete and utter lack of people. I could practically count on two hands the number of passengers milling around the airport this morning during peak business hours… it was almost something out of a zombie movie. Ordinarily I would have seen hundreds, thousands of people… and I have in the past as I’ve traversed this route many times before. And no, today was not a holiday.