by Spencer Jayden (libertarian) Friday, August 28, 2009
Recently, some of you may have noticed a cluster of articles still dwelling on the failures of the Barr/Root '08 campaign last November, or whether to further moderate the LP platform in 2010. Those who check my backlog might notice that I predicted just as much way back in October:
...The LP is a failed brand... will they heed their principles and stop subsidizing a party too "big" to fail? Or will the LP linger on, like the corporate duopoly which keeps on insisting on one more chance? That choice is up to you.
If the Downtown Development Association’s newest Go Local Lincolnton effort “Strange Change” catches on there will be a lot more dollar coins and $2 bills in circulation locally. DDA wants Lincolnton residents to show their support of locally owned businesses by using dollar coins and $2 bills.
West Virginia Senator John Davidson “Jay” Rockefeller IV — the Democratic great-grandson of oil mogul John D. Rockefeller — has been said to be working for months on a draft of S. 773, a bill whose stated goal is “to ensure the continued free flow of commerce within the United States and with its global trading partners through secure cyber communications, to provide for the continued development and exploitation of the Internet and intranet communications for such purposes, to provide for the development of a cadre of information technology specialists to improve and maintain effective cybersecurity defenses against disruption.”
Translation: It means the White House can order companies to disclose information, and possibly take control of their networks and computers, if the President declares them “critical” to an emergency involving the Internet.
Ayn Rand wrote, "when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice - you may know that your society is doomed."
America is not doomed, but the fellows in Washington are pushing for that outcome. It seems that all the characters that encouraged this financial crisis are being rewarded, and Ben Bernanke's re-nomination is no exception to this rule. He was on the Board of Governors when Alan Greenspan grew our bubble economy. Known as 'Helicopter Ben,' Bernanke was the most vocal supporter of low interest rates to combat the bogus threat of deflation, even if it meant dropping cash from helicopters. He succeeded in his aim – as it is hard for prices to decline while the money supply is growing by double digits.
Republican Party reptile sheds skin, becomes libertarian lizard
By Nick Sorrentino
When I was in college I made the case regularly for free markets and the free flow of ideas despite the fact that most of the poli sci department at Mary Washington College was solidly on the left. The students, the professors, pretty much everyone, was on the left. I happily embraced a position on the “right.” I was a conservative and very proud of it. I had cut my teeth on the National Review and Bill Buckley. Plus, having read nearly everything that PJ O’Rourke had written, I figured that if PJ considered himself a conservative then I must be one also, since I pretty much agreed with everything he wrote.
But I realized in my senior year of college that in fact I was probably no conservative. After a short stint working on Capitol Hill I knew I wasn’t. I was a libertarian.
To say that one is a “conservative” while defending freedom and liberty is to cede the high ground to the statists. If one is a conservative one is fighting a rearguard battle. The Liberals, or “progressives,” as they prefer to call themselves these days, are the force for change and a better tomorrow. Conservatism is for those who cling to old ideas, old ways of life, and can’t stand the thought of change. If one is for freedom, yet characterizes oneself as a “conservative” one is by default essentially saying that the cause of freedom is in someway outdated and a vestige of another era, and something to be augmented over time by those who drive the train of history, namely the “liberals.”
Now, we in America have done all sorts of funny things to political labels. For instance those who would expand the state and restrict the liberalization of markets are called “liberal.” Conservatives tend not to be “conservationists” and are the most likely to embrace structural reform in government (At least traditionally in America.)
Somewhere in the late 1990s however the conservatives became (in the classical sense) conservative. In Congress, instead of reform, they became preoccupied with a “permanent majority” as Carl Rove called it. They embraced the state, while placing more emphasis on truly conservative social issues. They became, or perhaps always were, just statists of a different flavor. They cared little about personal freedom truth be told. And if they could get a bridge built in their district, or an expansion of a military base, they would happily expand the state at the taxpayers expense so as to solidify their position as regional power broker.
Not that this is surprising of course. This is what government does. It corrupts.
But as the battle lines are drawn in this healthcare debate I wonder how many of the folks yelling and screaming right now (and thank God they are) are just doing so because they hate the Democrats and do not necessarily love freedom? I wonder how many of these people really have issues with Social Security, or the funding of a bloated Pentagon, for instance.
Now don’t get me wrong. I am happy that people are finally saying something about the expansion of the state in their lives. But why stop with healthcare? Why not everything else too?
There are of course many true freedom lovers at these rallies who do have a problem with Social Security and a bloated Pentagon. But I would argue that many of the people jumping up and down are unfortunately really late 1990s conservatives, who would simply prefer that the federal leviathan work on their behalf versus the opponent’s team. I hope I am wrong.
The truth is I have little in common with the folks that just don’t want their system touched. Not that I think that the expansion of government in healthcare is a good thing. I would argue that what we need is in fact greater liberalization of the healthcare market in this country. I wonder how many of the “conservatives” at these rallies would be for that?
While many analysts expect the dollar to strengthen in coming months as the crisis fades and the U.S. economy turns toward growth, a growing chorus of investors is expressing concern about the longer-term outlook for the greenback.
Rose Friedman, an economist who co-authored a number of influential books with her late husband Milton Friedman, died on Tuesday, according to the Friedman Foundation. While her birth date is uncertain, she is believed to have been 98 years old.
By Michael Zielinski on August 14th, 2009 Categories: Featured, Precious Metals
My wife and I recently sent some items to Cash 4 Gold, a company that allows you to send jewelry or other items with gold content in exchange for a prompt cash payment. The company has become somewhat well known following some mainstream media coverage, a Super Bowl ad, and extensive internet advertising.
U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul of Kentucky is reaping an online fundraising bonanza today, as a “money bomb” for his campaign efforts exploded from supporters of his father's 2008 presidential campaign.
Organized by music promoter Trevor Lyman, the man who organized multimillion-dollar online fundraising efforts for the 2008 Ron Paul for President campaign, the campaign hopes to raise as much as $1 million during the day. Rand Paul is running as a Republican for the open U.S. Senate seat in Kentucky being vacated by retiring Republican Senator Jim Bunning.
In his book, “Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human,” Wrangham argues that it was not agriculture, tools or meat eating that led to the rise of human beings. The big leap forward came about two million years ago when hominids first discovered the joys of the barbecue.
Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp. and more than a dozen other firms told clients to purchase European energy producers and U.S. drugmakers while selling banks and retailers, according to combined rankings compiled by Bloomberg. An investor who used $10,000 to buy companies in the highest-rated industries and bet on declines in the lowest since the advance began on March 9 lost everything and would owe as much as $6,000 to cover bearish trades, the data show.
"Mark to market" means you value your loan according to what the market will pay you for it. Many firms prefer the "mark to model" way of accounting. This means you value your asset according to a theoretical model.Enron was a big fan of "mark to model."
Fair-Value Accounting Is ‘Horror Flick Monster’: Chart of Day
By Brendan Moynihan and Tom Contiliano
Aug. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Investors should beware the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s decision yesterday to consider expanding fair-value rules, said Brian Wesbury, chief economist at First Trust Advisors LP in Wheaton, Illinois.
“Like a horror flick monster that just won’t stay dead, FASB’s accountants are proposing to expand the application of mark-to-market accounting rules across the board to include all financial assets, including regular loans,” Wesbury said.
The CHART OF THE DAY, fashioned from one Wesbury is presenting to investors, tracks the performance of the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index since the Securities and Exchange Commission and FASB clarified the meaning of the rules in September 2008.
“Twice the market was teased with a sense of potential changes for mark-to-market accounting. Twice those hopes were dashed and twice the market fell to new lows,” Wesbury said.
The biggest reason that stocks have rallied since March, Wesbury said, is that the House Financial Services Committee forced FASB to loosen its mark-to-market rules. Other reasons for the rally are the easiest monetary policy in the Federal Reserve Board’s 96-year history and the end of panic selling, he said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Brendan Moynihan in Brentwood, Tennessee, at 9254 or email@example.com
Aug. 14 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. stocks are “dramatically overpriced” because the fallout from the financial crisis will continue to hurt consumer spending, said David Tice, Federated Investors Inc.’s chief portfolio strategist for bear markets.
I've been asked to speak on the theme of Roman history, particularly the problem of inflation and its impact. My analysis is based on the premise that monetary policy cannot be studied, or understood, in isolation from the overall policies of the state. Monetary, fiscal, military, political and economic issues are all very much intertwined. And the reason they are all so intertwined is, in part, due to the fact that the state, any state, normally seeks to monopolize the supply of money within its own territory.
I was recently asked how it was that I knew to sell my house prior to the bursting of the housing bubble, why I sold out all my stock holdings in favor of gold and silver long before that was an obviously sensible move, and why I am convinced now that the recent actions by the Fed and the Treasury Department are likely to fail.
But most of all, how did I get i right, when so many others missed it entirely?
While I do root around in masses of complicated data, the answer to these questions is surprisingly simple: I trusted myself.
In the meantime, it’s Christmas every day for the too-big- to fail crowd, with taxpayers playing Santa Claus. Just look at interest expenses that have been halved at banks like Citigroup Inc., thanks to loan guarantees and zero-percent interest rates, or the 46 $100-million-plus trading days racked up by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in the second quarter.
Peter Schiff, the libertarian economist and investor who’s launched a dark-horse bid for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), is raking in cash from a Ron Paul-endorsed, 2007-style “moneybomb.” As of 3:30, Schiff supporters had raised more than $100,000 today for the candidate at Schiffathon.com, giving him more than $550,000 in campaign cash since entering the race in mid-July with the aim of raking in $750,000 by day’s end. By comparison, former Rep. Rob Simmons (R-Conn.), the front-runner for the GOP nomination, raised $753,000 from April through June.
President Obama has chosen sides, lit a fire, and even inspired violence. Yes, reports are coming from St. Louis about a 38 year old black conservative that was beaten so badly by SCIU union members, that he was forced to spend time in the emergency room. People are getting roughed up by union members at town halls in Tampa Bay, Florida. These union punks didn't act because they are passionate about health care, they were told to "punch back twice as hard" by none other than the white house itself.
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner blasted top U.S. regulators in an expletive-laden tiradeamid frustration over President Barack Obama's faltering plan to overhaul financial regulation, the Wall Street Journal said on Monday, citing people familiar with the meeting.
As many of the regular readers of the LER know I used to be an investment advisor for a bank before the world imploded last fall. So I watch the markets with a special interest. And I must say that I am particularly interested in the 40% rally we have been witness to in the American markets.
It doesn’t seem to make any sense. On the whole earnings for the most recent season were poor. Jobless claims are still building, and in large numbers. The revised GDP numbers from last week were twice as bad as originally thought. Yet how does the market react? It rallies.
One of the first lessons any investment professional learns in his career is that the market is way smarter than he is. A good trader might have flashes of brilliance, but one knows to “never fight the tape.” A rally is a rally no matter how dubious he thinks its underpinnings are.
Now, I do believe this rally smells bad. I do fear that we are in the midst of a second Great Depression and that sooner or later we will see a big move down in equity markets. But it got me thinking about what we have traded for this period of positive market returns.
I believe that the current rally is largely due to the massive piles of cash the Fed has dumped on Wall Street in various forms. Money has been given to the investment banks, courtesy of you, the economic participant, at almost no interest. They’ve got to do something with it, and so some goes into equity markets.
There is more money from Washington waiting in the wings as well. So who knows where the rally will stop. I pray for this nation that it will be soon. But a rally is a rally even if it is being fed by increasingly devalued money.
But let’s take a moment to think about how this country has changed since the bottom fell out of the markets last fall.
GM is Government Motors now. Chrysler is another division. AIG, the world’s largest insurer is now government run. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are now explicitly government entities, and back more than half of the mortgages in this country. The American tax payer is now on the hook for what looks like as much as 23.7 trillion in TARP liabilities according to Neil Barofsky, the Troubled Asset Relief Program’s own special inspector general. That is 23.7 TRILLION. 750 billion seems like a bargain in comparison.
So we the taxpayer loan money through the Fed, at 0% interest, to the banks that took hugely unwise bets, and raised interest on our credit cards whenever given the chance, and basically shattered the economic foundation of this country (with the encouragement of the government and the Fed of course.) Now we’ve saved these guys so that these same entities can do it all again only now with even more help from the politicians. We are subsidizing institutions that do not care one lick about you and me. Our children will pay for Goldman Sach’s raid on the treasury for their entire lives. That is just wrong. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
So let’s get a little perspective on the numbers.
I was recently reading an old article in Foreign Affairs discussing the potential oil reserves in former Soviet central Asia. In the article the author writes that over 30 years it was estimated that the Caspian region would produce about 100 billion dollars worth of crude. The author made the case that it was vital that America sure up its interests in the region because if it didn’t there could be a war (with Russia) over the geological spoils.
This article was written right before September 11th and things have changed to be sure, but the fact that the international affairs community was concerned enough to highlight the concern it had over a “mere” 100 billion dollars worth of wealth illustrates how insane things have gotten since then. If 100 billion dollars worth of fuel wealth was potentially a trigger for World War III what in the hell are we doing authorizing 750 billion in a couple of days to save Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan? And, as sited above 750 billion is likely less than 5% of the total bill to the American public.
It’s basically a giant game of chicken. The Fed is doing what it wants and furthers its interests at the cost of most Americans because the American people don’t do anything. The public look to Gietner, Paulson, Bernanke and company and see a coven of financial magicians. Many Americans figure that since they can’t balance their checking accounts these guys should be in control. The magicians clearly know more than the rest of America right? Why would they be in the positions they are in if they didn’t. What many Americans don’t realize is that these guys haven’t balanced a budget, household or otherwise, in their life.
So the Fed and the feds just continue to run roughshod.
But there might be a peasant revolt at hand. Ron Paul’s bill to audit the Federal Reserve has over 270 cosponsors in the House of Representatives. It has a fair amount of support in the Senate.
But Congressional leadership won’t let the bill come up for a vote. The Fed knows that if the books are opened there is going to be a lot of splainin’ to do. In fact when the American people see how the Fed has played Congress and the American people for fools there might be hell to pay.
But the Fed isn’t going to let this happen if they can help it. It recently hired Enron’s old lobbyist to try to kill support in the House. When that didn’t work they engaged in a very quiet game of extortion.
2 weeks ago the Fed made it clear that if the Fed’s independence was compromised (read if the Fed’s books were opened so the American people could see what it was doing with its money) the Fed would have no choice but to raise interest rates. The Fed basically threatened to crash the economy if a light was shined on it.
That brings me back to the rally. If the Obama administration, the Treasury, the Fed, and Goldman Sachs (which handles about 50% of all the trades on the NYSE) all have an interest in perpetuating the highly centralized financial order why should I trust this rally?
I don’t, but again, a rally is a rally.
The question is how far is the establishment willing to go to keep this order. My hope is that the humanity of the people in the Obama administration, the Treasury, the Fed, and even Goldman Sachs would shine through and they would stop before completely tossing the Constitution and the concept of constitutional democracy out explicitly if a choice was forced. But I don’t really know.
People who use apocalyptic hyperbole irritate me, but I do think it is entirely appropriate to ask- How far will these guys go if pushed?
So the market keeps on going up, but this country as we knew it fades deeper into the rear view. Not that the previous order was great, but at least it still had the vestiges of liberty.
The truth is individual liberty is a liability for the powerful. Why should people think for themselves? It’s a quaint idea, but come on, most people are little more than molecules in the great social order. Their lives mean nothing in the grand scheme. Plus liberty is so inefficient. If we can get folks to walk in lock step so much more can be done! Plan, plan, plan.