29/8/2014: Stability… of Negative Growth: Euro Area in Historical Perspective

Washington Post has a nifty chart plotting the demise of Europe…That’s not just ‘periphery’ up there in black. It’s the entire euro area, with the stellar performer Germany, solid Austria and exports-rich Belgium and the Netherlands, competitiveness-leading world superstar Finland, the best-educated country in the solar system Ireland, and on… and on…

This post was published at True Economics on Friday, August 29, 2014.

Keynesian Fairy Tale Alert: Establishment Citadel – Council On Foreign Relations – -Peddles Helicopter Money Plan

Folks, take economic cover. There is already a rabid financial mania loose in the land as reflected in the irrational exuberance of the stock market, but, in fact, the fairy tale economics fueling the current financial bubble is fixing to leap into a whole new realm of lunacy. Namely, an out-and-out drop of ‘helicopter money’ to the main street masses.
That’s right. The Keynesian brain freeze has so deeply infected the Wall Street/ Washington corridor that the grey old lady of the establishment, the Council On Foreign Relations, has lent the pages of its prestigious journal, Foreign Affairs, to the following blithering gibberish:
It’s well past time, then, for U. S. policymakers – as well as their counterparts in other developed countries – to consider a version of Friedman’s helicopter drops….. Rather than trying to spur private-sector spending through asset purchases or interest-rate changes, central banks, such as the Fed, should hand consumers cash directly. In practice, this policy could take the form of giving central banks the ability to hand their countries’ tax-paying households a certain amount of money. The government could distribute cash equally to all households or, even better, aim for the bottom 80 percent of households in terms of income. Targeting those who earn the least would have two primary benefits. For one thing, lower-income households are more prone to consume, so they would provide a greater boost to spending. For another, the policy would offset rising income inequality.
I have actually checked, and, no, the publishing arm of the Council on Foreign Relations has not been hacked by writers from the Onion. This monetary insanity is for real!

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on August 29, 2014.

Ron Paul and Mark Spitznagel Talk Freedom, Farming, and the Fed

Ron Paul and Mark Spitznagel share a passion for non-interventionism, free markets, and Austrian economics. Congressman Paul served many years as a U. S. Representative from Texas, spanning 1976 to 2013, and was a Republican presidential candidate in 2008 and 2012. He has written extensively on liberty and politics, including The Revolution: A Manifesto and End the Fed. Spitznagel is the founder of Universa Investments, an investment advisor that specializes in tail-hedging, and is the author of The Dao of Capital, for which Paul wrote the Foreword. The two friends sat down recently to discuss topics ranging from the liberty movement and agricultural policy, to the consequences of Federal Reserve monetary policy. Here is a transcript of their conversation:Mark Spitznagel: Ron, you have been the galvanizing force of a resurgent liberty movement in the United States. Yet, we find ourselves in this world where interventionism is on the rise, and much of America remains complacent about it. For instance, I think we would agree that today’s crony-capitalism and monetary-interventionism by central banks is at an unprecedented scale that will once again leave destruction in its wake. Why is America letting this happen, and moving away from its Jeffersonian ideals? Moreover, I have to ask you, has the liberty movement stalled, or even failed?Ron Paul: Mark, on the surface and in Washington it may appear that interventionism is on the rise but in reality it’s on the defensive, more so than ever. Indeed there is a lot of complacency as that is frequently the rule for the majority of people regardless of the system. Where there is little complacency is with the intellectual leaders now leading the charge against the foreign and economic interventionists who have been in charge for decades and created the major crisis that we face today. It’s never easy politically to turn off bad policies and many times we have to wait until the policies self-destruct. The philosophy of non-intervention is growing significantly and that is crucial since ideas do have consequences. The obvious failure of the current system, and the current intellectual leaders of the younger generation who are more favorably inclined toward non-intervention, provide the encouragement we need to clean up the mess. During my presidential campaigns, I was always quite pleased when students held up signs saying: ‘You cured my apathy.”A question for you, Mark: I know you and a very few others like Jimmy Rogers know about authentic non-intervention in the economy, but what are Wall Street traders and investors like? Are they helpful in exposing crony-capitalism or are they part of the problem?
Mark: Unfortunately, Wall Street can’t help but respond to monetary intervention, like puppets to the Federal Reserve puppet master. Not only has the Fed turned just about every investor into a crazed gambler desperate for any yield above today’s artificially low interest rates, for professional investors the desperation is compounded by the career risk associated with underperforming in the very next period. If you’re fired for not having played the Fed’s game in the next round, who cares about what will happen in future rounds, and who cares about the long-run implications of this crony-capitalist game?

This post was published at Ron Paul Institute on August 26, 2014.

‘Monetary Policy’ Gone Berserk

One issue the financial media is willing to ignore, but has been foremost in my mind for many years is the utter recklessness of the Federal Reserve’s ‘monetary policy.’ Below is a chart the public will never see on CNBC, or anywhere else, but I believe is vital to understand the threat that Washington and Wall Street currently present to the world at large. You’re looking at what academic-quack economists have done to the global reserve currency to save the hides of the banking elite, who for decades have acted as if Wall Street was their private fiefdom.

The FOMC calls this ‘monetary policy’ but for me something completely different comes to mind: legalized counterfeiting. Unfortunately, for years the baby-boomer generation (and their children; the Gen-Xers) have sought pleasure in immediate consumption. It’s hard to blamethem since the Fed destroyed their incentive to save by lowering the Fed Funds Rate to nearly 0% in December 2008. This rate can never be raised (despite the Fed rhetoric) without blowing up the budget deficit, sinking the economy in the process. For decades American’s, (and just about everyone else) have taken full advantage of the debt generously provided by the banking system to leverage their income, and now far too many people are hooked on cheap credit and just one paycheck away from insolvency, as are their employers.

This post was published at Gold-Eagle on August 24, 2014