Would you like to have a digital identity card that is automatically issued to you at birth? In one European nation, residents use such a card when they go to the hospital, when they do their banking, when they go shopping and even when they vote. This card has become so popular that this particular European country actually plans to start issuing them to millions of non-citizens all over the planet who request them. Never heard about this? Neither had I before this week. The Economist is calling for the entire planet to adopt this “national identification system” that the little nation of Estonia has adopted. The Economist is touting all of the “benefits” of a “national identification card”, but are there dangers as well? Could adopting such a system potentially open the door for greater government tyranny than we have ever known before?
Let Us Count the Ways ...
As student loan bailouts rain down from Washington, we thought it may be useful to consider where the world's wealthiest University alumni are. As Private Wealth reports, following a survey of 70,000 millionaires around the world, eight of the top ten universities with the highest number of rich alumni are based in the U.S., with the U.K. home to the other two. Engineering degrees produced the most millionaires, although most engineering grads made money as entrepreneurs, the study revealed. MBAs, law, accounting, and finance degrees also led to financial success.
The massive consolidation of wealth, combined with the removal of any limits on money in campaigns, has allowed for the purchase of our government. Americans know that something is wrong, deeply wrong. They see signs of the problem everywhere: income inequality, growing concentration and power of mega corporations, political donations/corruption, the absence of jobs with decent salaries, the explosion of the US prison population, healthcare costs, student loan debt, homelessness, etc. etc. However, the true causes and benefactors behind these problems are purposely hidden from view. What Americans see is Kabuki Theater of a functioning form of capitalism and democracy, but beyond this veneer our country has devolved into the exact opposite.
There can be little doubt that Thomas Piketty's new book Capital in the 21st Century has struck a nerve globally. In fact, the Piketty phenomenon (the economic equivalent to Beatlemania) has in some ways become a bigger story than the ideas themselves. However, the book's popularity is not at all surprising when you consider that its central premise: how radical wealth redistribution will create a better society, has always had its enthusiastic champions (many of whom instigated revolts and revolutions). What is surprising, however, is that the absurd ideas contained in the book could captivate so many supposedly intelligent people.
- Vietnam, China trade accusations after Vietnamese fishing boat sinks (Reuters)
- SEC Set to Spur Exchange Trading (WSJ)
- Bank of Japan quietly eyes stimulus exit (Reuters)
- Japan Risks Low Growth Even as Easing Spurs Inflation (BBG)
- Hello Japan: Bond Market Message to Fed: Your 4% Rate Outlook Is Too High (BBG)
- Malaysia, UK firm release satellite data on missing MH370 flight (Reuters)
- Fighting rages in eastern Ukraine city, dozens dead (Reuters)
- Bad Credit No Problem as Balance-Sheet Bombs Rally 94% (BBG)
- Draghi’s Asset-Backed Drive Rouses Academic Skeptics (BBG)
- For-Profit Colleges Face Test From State, Federal Officials (WSJ)
In recent weeks the concept of capital has been thoroughly, and incorrectly, deconstructed by Marxists and Keynesians alike now that, suddenly, the world caught up with what we said would be the crux issue back in 2011: record wealth inequality (who could have possibly foreseen it following $10 trillion in central bank balance sheet expansion in the last decade), and finding "fair" ways of confiscating the wealth of the rich to - at least on paper - help the poor even if in reality all it would do is simply lead to more government theft, embezzling, corruption, and capital misallocation. It is now time to get an Austrian perspective and courtesy of unrepentant "Austrian" Sean Corrigan we just got one.
Is man altruistic by nature? Very stupid question really since we all know that man is man’s worst enemy.
None other than status-quo-hugger Berkshire Hathaway's Charlie Munger took aim at the scourge of HFT this morning; blasting high-frequency traders as "the functional equivalent of letting rats into a granary," and exclaims "it does the rest of civilization no good at all." Buffett reminds that HFT is "not a liquidity provider, " explaining that while it does produce volume, that is not the same as liquidity; and while the Oracle opines (incorrectly) that the small investor has never had it so good, Munger is quick to point out that the money HFT makes does not come from heaven and in fact it is the small investor who is hurt by the fact that large investors (who mostly act on small investors' behalf) are severely impacted. Even the usually abstinent Bill Gates remarks upon HFT as "adding no value.. because when the liquidity is needed, it isn't there." Munger sums it up: "I don't like it."
Bad Government and Central Bank Policy Are the MAIN CAUSE of Runaway Inequality
Martin Armstrong "It's Not the Rich – It's The Total Cost Of Government That Is Killing The Economy"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 04/14/2014 18:15 -0400
"It is not what an individual needs that is the issue. Take all the money away from Bill Gates. How will this improve your life at all? The issue is how much is government consuming. But as long as they point to the 'rich' they get to waste your money.
The solution is not to raise taxes on the rich, for government will still spend more than it takes in regardless of who pays... It is taxes that we must address – not how much someone else makes."
Bill Gates recently gave an interview to Rolling Stone magazine. The vast majority of the interview focused on his philanthropic efforts, with a particular focus on poverty and climate change. However, several questions were brought up on illegal NSA surveillance in general, and Edward Snowden in particular. His answers reveal one of the biggest problems facing America today, which is the fact that the billionaire class as a whole does not question or rock the boat whatsoever. They criticize only when it is convenient or easy to do so, never putting themselves at risk for the sake of civil liberties and the Constitution.
The first is the Chinese word for filthy, stinking rich, the uncouth bling-blingy rich of the People’s Republic. The second is the name given to middle-aged women dripping in gold. I imagine that two middle-aged women with the yellow bars would lead to a much deserved ‘dispute’ (yes repeating the ideogram for ‘woman’ actually means there’s ‘trouble’, telling you a whole lot about what the Chinese actually think about women insociety).
Bill Gates’ Texas energy company has filed for bankruptcy protection as the depressed power market results in untenable financial losses... "The current depressed economic environment of the electric power industry – particularly with respect to coal-fired plants – and the debtors' liquidity constraints have resulted in continuing losses that, simply put, have left the debtors without alternatives." But what about the recovery?!