David Stockman Berates Bruce Berkowitz's Bogus Bombast

The Fed’s serial bubble machine has not only bestowed massive speculative windfalls on the 1%, but it has also fostered a noxious culture of plunder and entitlement in the gambling casinos of Wall Street. After each thundering sell-off during the bust phase, crony capitalist gamblers have been gifted with ill-gotten windfalls during the Fed’s subsequent maniacal money printing spree.  In this context comes Bruce Berkowitz “scolding” and firing “salvos” at Washington from the front page of the Wall Street Journal.

Say's Law And The Permanent Recession

Mainstream media discussion of the macro economic picture goes something like this: “When there is a recession, the Fed should stimulate. We know from history the recovery comes about 12-18 months after stimulus. We stimulated, we printed a lot of money, we waited 18 months. So the economy ipso facto has recovered. Or it’s just about to recover, any time now.” But to quote the comedian Richard Pryor, “Who ya gonna believe? Me or your lying eyes?” However, as Hayek said, the more the state centrally plans, the more difficult it becomes for the individual to plan. Economic growth is not something that just happens. It requires saving. It requires investment and capital accumulation. And it requires the real market process. It is not a delicate flower but it requires some degree of legal stability and property rights. And when you get in the way of these things, the capital accumulation stops and the economy stagnates.

HAA HAA: Will Another Creditanstalt Be Revealed Once The Hypo Alpe Aldria "Black Box" Is Opened?

It would indeed be supremely ironic if the "strong" foreign law bond indenture would be tested, and breached, not by Greek bonds, as so many expected in late 2011 and early 2012, but by one of the last contries in Europe which is still AAA-rated. We would find it less ironic if the next leg of the global financial crisis was once again unleashed by an Austrian bank: after all history does rhyme...

Venezuela Expels 3 US Diplomats For "Promoting Instability"

Having been 'busted' for their manipulation of events in Ukraine (and exposing their views of the European Union), it seems US diplomats have been up to their old tricks once again... this time in Venezuela. "Go Conspire In Washington," was the clear message sent to the US as President Maduro expelled three US diplomats from his country, accusing them of plotting with anti-government protesters in an attempt to topple his socialist government. This is the second time Maduro has kicked out US diplomats (3 more were expelled in September for 'conspiring with government opponents') as he blasted comments by John Kerry as "yet another maneuver" by Washington to "legitimize attempts to destabilize the Venezuelan democracy unleashed by violent groups in recent days."

What's Going On In Venezuela (In A Nutshell)

Protests in Venezuela continue (despite President Maduro's proclamation that the nation is in "absolute calm"), with both the government and the opposition holding rallies, leaving several streets and subway stations in Caracas closed. 10 students who were arrested amid violent protests last week have been released, though 6 students remain in custody. Demonstrators do not yet have the numbers or support base to unseat President Nicolas Maduro's administration, but as Stratfor notes, these protests could mark a turning point as the economic situation deteriorates there is a chance that protests like this could begin to generate additional social momentum in rejection of the status quo.

The Countdown To The Nationalization Of Retirement Savings Has Begun

Even before the new myRA program was announced, there had been whispers about the need for the US government to assume some risk for US retirement accounts. That's code for forced conversion of private retirement assets into government bonds. As bad as it is to deceive naïve Americans into trading their hard-earned retirement savings for garbage (i.e., Treasury securities), the myRA program potentially represents something far worse... the first step toward the nationalization of existing private retirement accounts.

Rolling Stone Resurrects Karl Marx (And No - It Was Not Satire)

The fact that economic ignorance is widespread is really a big problem in our view. Unfortunately even what is broadly considered the economic mainstream thought is riddled with stuff that we think just doesn't represent good economics. Partly it is actually furthered by statist propaganda and obfuscation. For instance, the average citizen is not supposed to question the centrally planned monetary system, and neither is he supposed to actually understand how it works. Another glaring example is the still widespread idea that socialism – or rather, communism (i.e., full-scale socialism as opposed to its milder 'democratic' version) – would be "the best possible system of social and economic organization if only it were implemented correctly", or the variant "...if only human nature were different and we were morally more advanced than we actually are". The main problem with this train of thought is that it is actually completely wrong...

And The Best Stock Market Of 2013 Is...

With the world watching mouth open at the 30% gains in the US equity market (and 57% gains in Japan), the Venezuelans are cock-a-hoop at their wealth-generation this year... a sprinkling of totalitarianism, nationalization, toilet-paper shortages, and hyperinflation and, drum roll please... the Caracas Stock Index is up a disappointed-not-to-make-it-to-500%, 480% in 2013... (time to greatly rotate and chase that momentum)...

Bailout Of World's Oldest Bank In Jeopardy, Rests On Hope That "Ship Does Not Sink"

The ongoing debacle of Italy's Banca Monte dei Paschi (BMPS) took a turn for the worst today. The bank's largest shareholders (MPS Foundation) approved (read - forced through) a delay in a EUR 3 billion capital raise, which the bank needs to avoid nationalization, until May. The delay (which will cost the bank EUR 120 million in interest) allows MPS more time to liquidate their 33.5% holding before their stake is massively diluted. Management is 'considering' resignation and is "very annoyed," but the city Mayor is going Nationalist with his delay-supporting comments that "we cannot let the third biggest bank in this country fall prey to foreign interests." So Europe is recovering but they can't even raise a day's worth of POMO to save the oldest bank in the world?

Guest Post: Inflation, Shortages, And Social Democracy In Venezuela

The economic turmoil in Venezuela has received increasing international media attention over the past few months. Earlier this month, in another attempt to ensure “happiness for all people,” Maduro began to hand out Christmas bonuses, in preparation for the coming elections in December. Although not yet officially in hyperinflation, monetary expansion is pushing Venezuela toward the brink. In such an environment, paychecks need to be distributed quickly, before prices have time to rise; hence, early bonuses. This kind of policy is nothing new in economic history: Venezuela’s hyperinflationary episode is unfolding in much the same way Germany’s did nearly a century ago. Consequently, Venezuela’s economic policy is proving to be another example of Ludwig von Mises’s argument that economic intervention, if left unchecked, leads to complete socialism. As disturbing as the thought is, the difference between the U.S. and other Western economies and Venezuela is merely one of degree, not of kind.

Venezuela Jails Over 100 "Bourgeois, Barbaric, Capitalist Parasites"

"It's time to deepen the offensive, go to the bone in this economic war," warned Venezuelan President Maduro - echoing Hugo Chavez's iron fist of socialism (and nationalization) before him - as his decision to jail over 100 businessmen is "defending the poor." As Reuters reports, plenty of Venezuelans have applauded his measures, saying price hikes were out of control, while others have expressed fears that Maduro could be uncorking dangerous forces as opposition forces note Maduro's economic policies were "chillingly similar" to those of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. Officials say unscrupulous companies have been hiking prices of electronics and other goods more than 1,000 percent. Critics say failed socialist economic policies and restricted access to foreign currency are behind Venezuela's runaway inflation. No matter which, Maduro thundered "They are barbaric, these capitalist parasites!"

Venezuela Government "Occupies" Electronics Retail Chain, Enforces "Fair" Prices

Venezuela's relatively new government has adopted arguably the best and brightest socialist policy wielded by both Hollande and Obama, namely the "fairness doctrine." However, in this case it is not about what is a "fair" tax for the wealthy (as taxes in Venezuela's socialist paradise will hardly do much to build up the desperately needed foreign currency reserves), but what is a "fair" price for electronic appliances like flat screen TVs, toasters, and ACs. The result is that Maduro's government now determines what equilibrium pricing should be. The reason for this latest socialist victory over the tyranny of supply and demand is that overnight Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro ordered the "occupation" of a chain of electronic goods stores in a crackdown on what the socialist government views as price-gouging hobbling the country's economy. Various managers of the five-store, 500-employee Daka chain have been arrested, and the company will now be forced to sell products at "fair prices," Maduro said late on Friday.

Guest Post: 5 Ways To Create A Monopoly

It’s hard to maintain monopoly status in a free market when you have to deal with all that competition and whatnot. Between other companies’ low prices and new, updated products entering the market each day, it’s almost like Rich Uncle Pennybags is a thing of the past. But fret not! The politicians of the world would like to offer anyone dead set on controlling an entire industry the chance to shine. So come one, come all — government agencies, cronies, and all their friends — as we present the five best ways to create a monopoly and to ensure you never have to compete again.