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Showing posts with label debt us. Show all posts
Showing posts with label debt us. Show all posts

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Social Security: The New Deal’s Fiscal Ponzi

by David Stockman

The Social Security Act of 1935 had virtually nothing to do with ending the depression, and if anything it had a contractionary impact. Payroll taxes began in 1937 while regular benefit payments did not commence until 1940.
Yet its fiscal legacy threatens disaster in the present era because its core principle of “social insurance” inexorably gives rise to a fiscal doomsday machine. When in the context of modern political democracy the state offers universal transfer payments to its citizens without proof of need, it offers thereby to bankrupt itself—eventually.
By contrast, a minor portion of the 1935 legislation embodied the opposite principle—namely, the means-tested safety net offered through categorical aid for the low-income elderly, blind, disabled and dependent families. These programs were inherently self-contained because beneficiaries of means-tested transfers simply do not have the wherewithal—that is, PACs and organized lobbying machinery—to “capture” policy-making and thereby imperil the public purse.
To the extent that means-tested social welfare is strictly cash-based, as was cogently advocated by Milton Friedman in his negative income tax plan, it is even more fiscally stable. Such purely cash based transfers do not enlist and mobilize the lobbying power of providers and vendors of in-kind assistance, such as housing and medical services.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Who Is The Highest Paid Public Employee In Your State?

by Tyler Durden

Think the best paid public servant in your state is some tax-collecting bureaucrat with a commission-based comp structure, or some administrative apparatchik? Think again. As the following infographic from Deadspin shows, in 41 US states, the highest-paid public employee is either the football, basketball or hockey coach at the local state school. Whick takes cares of the "Circuses" part. For now, at least, public sector bakers did not make the list...

But fear not: your taxes don't pay for these key actors in the daily lineup of "bread and circuses" - from Deadspin: "The bulk of this coaching money—especially at the big football schools—is paid out of the revenue that the teams generate."

What are the considerations? 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Story Of Inequality In The US: Past, Present And Future

In this far-reaching documentary, we are first treated to a history lesson from the early 80s to the present day - a story of lust, debt, and largesse; from Reagan deficits to cell phones to day trading to real estate... and then 2008 is explained (as reality started to peek through). The clip projects the next few years - from failed bond auctions to QE9 and social unrest - "but it doesn't have to be this way," the narrator notes. Breaking Inequality is a documentary film about the corruption between Washington and Wall Street that has resulted in the largest inequality gap in the history of America.
It is a film that exposes the truth behind the single event that occurred back in the early 70's that set us off on this perilous journey that we are currently on. The inequality gap is presently the worst that it has ever been and there is no solution in place to repair this crippling problem.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Preparing for Inflationary Times

by Jeff Clark

"All this money printing, massive debt, and reckless deficit spending – and we have 2% inflation? I'm beginning to believe that either the deflationists are right, or the Fed's interventions are working." – Anonymous Casey Research reader
The CPI, in our view, does not accurately measure inflation, which accounts for some of the discrepancy our reader is pointing out. However, the proper definition of inflation is "an increase in the quantity of money," which we've had in spades. We've not experienced the concomitant increase in prices, which is what we're addressing in this article.
It's logical to assume that when you create more of something, you dilute the value of what's already in existence. That's exactly what has happened to the US dollar since the 2008 financial crisis hit. Economics 101 says this should lead to higher inflation – yet official Consumer Price Index (CPI) levels remain benign.
It's this unexpected development that led a reader to pen the above quote. Is the inflation argument dead? If so, does that mean gold's big run is over? It's a timely question since the current selloff in gold is largely attributed to low inflation expectations.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Cyprus and the Unraveling of Fractional-Reserve Banking


[Originally posted on Circle Bastiat, the faculty blog of the Mises Institute. Read Circle Bastiat for Austrian analysis of current economic events from today’s top Misesian and Rothbardian economists.]
The “Cyprus deal” as it has been widely referred to in the media may mark the next to last act in the the slow motion collapse of fractional-reserve banking that began with the implosion of the savings-and-loan industry in the U.S. in the late 1980s.
This trend continued with the currency crises in Russia, Mexico, East Asia, and Argentina in the 1990s in which fractional-reserve banking played a decisive role. The unraveling of fractional-reserve banking became visible even to the average depositor during the financial meltdown of 2008 that ignited bank runs on some of the largest and most venerable financial institutions in the world. The final collapse was only averted by the multi-trillion dollar bailout of U.S. and foreign banks by the Federal Reserve.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Fed in 2012

by David Howden

The Federal Reserve Board recently announced the preliminary and unaudited results of its 2012 operations. For those of us cautioning against the Fed’s increasingly dramatic operations, the results come as no big surprise. For those who think the Fed is fighting to save the economy, the results deserve a closer look.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Zombie Nation

Creating and sustaining a nation of zombies is expensive.

Large sections of the US population have been turned into zombies. Retirees. Medicare dependents. Food stamp recipients. Disabled people. They are not necessarily bad people. They are not necessarily dishonest or lazy. But rather than add to wealth, they consume it. And when you have too many of them, your society consumes more wealth than it produces and you are on the road to The Downside.

But the feds are not only creating individual zombies, they are also creating corporate zombies. An obvious example: “green” energy. Without subsidies, loan guarantees, tax benefits and direct giveaways, the industry as we know it would not exist. Nor would the ethanol industry in the Midwest. Nor the security industry in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Myth of the Failure of Capitalism

[This essay was originally published as "Die Legende von Versagen des Kapitalismus" in Der Internationale Kapitalismus und die Krise, Festschrift für Julius Wolf (1932)]

The nearly universal opinion expressed these days is that the economic crisis of recent years marks the end of capitalism. Capitalism allegedly has failed, has proven itself incapable of solving economic problems, and so mankind has no alternative, if it is to survive, then to make the transition to a planned economy, to socialism.
This is hardly a new idea. The socialists have always maintained that economic crises are the inevitable result of the capitalistic method of production and that there is no other means of eliminating economic crises than the transition to socialism. If these assertions are expressed more forcefully these days and evoke greater public response, it is not because the present crisis is greater or longer than its predecessors, but rather primarily because today public opinion is much more strongly influenced by socialist views than it was in previous decades.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Our Collapsing Economy and Currency


 Is the “fiscal cliff” real or just another hoax? The answer is that the fiscal cliff is real, but it is a result, not a cause. The hoax is the way the fiscal cliff is being used.
The fiscal cliff is the result of the inability to close the federal budget deficit. The budget deficit cannot be closed because large numbers of US middle class jobs and the GDP and tax base associated with them have been moved offshore, thus reducing federal revenues. The fiscal cliff cannot be closed because of the unfunded liabilities of eleven years of US-initiated wars against a half dozen Muslim countries–wars that have benefitted only the profits of the military/security complex and the territorial ambitions of Israel. The budget deficit cannot be closed, because economic policy is focused only on saving banks that wrongful financial deregulation allowed to speculate, to merge, and to become too big to fail, thus requiring public subsidies that vastly dwarf the totality of US welfare spending.

Friday, December 28, 2012

"fraud. why the great recession" (official documentary)

Free markets are not to be blamed for the Great Recession. On the contrary, its origins rest upon the deep government and central bank intervention in the economy. Through fraudulent mechanisms, this causes recurrent boom and bust cycles: bad policies create phases of irrational exuberance, which are then followed by economic recessions, a result that every citizen ends up suffering from.

The Fiscal Cliff Is a Diversion: The Derivatives Tsunami and the Dollar Bubble

The “fiscal cliff” is another hoax designed to shift the attention of policymakers, the media, and the attentive public, if any, from huge problems to small ones.
The fiscal cliff is automatic spending cuts and tax increases in order to reduce the deficit by an insignificant amount over ten years if Congress takes no action itself to cut spending and to raise taxes. In other words, the “fiscal cliff” is going to happen either way.
The problem from the standpoint of conventional economics with the fiscal cliff is that it amounts to a double-barrel dose of austerity delivered to a faltering and recessionary economy. Ever since John Maynard Keynes, most economists have understood that austerity is not the answer to recession or depression.
Regardless, the fiscal cliff is about small numbers compared to the Derivatives Tsunami or to bond market and dollar market bubbles.
The fiscal cliff requires that the federal government cut spending by $1.3 trillion over ten years. The Guardian reports that means the federal deficit has to be reduced about $109 billion per year or 3 percent of the current budget.

Why are (Smart) Investors Buying 50 Times More Physical Silver than Gold?

By: Eric Sprott

As long-time students of precious metals investing, there are certain things we understand. One is that, historically, the availability ratio of silver to gold has had a direct influence on the price of the metals. The current availability ratio of physical silver to gold for investment purposes is approximately 3:1. So, why is it that investors are allocating their dollars to silver at a much higher ratio? What is it that these “smart” investors understand? Let’s have a look at the numbers and see if it’s time for investors to do as a wise man once said and “follow the money.”
Average annual gold mine production is approximately 80 million ounces, which together with an estimated average 50 million ounces of annual recycled gold, totals around 130 million ounces available per year. In comparison, annual mined silver production has averaged around 750 million ounces, while recycled silver is estimated at 250 million ounces per year, which adds up to approximately 1 billion ounces. Using this data, there is roughly 8 times more silver available to buy than there is gold. However, not all gold and silver is available for investment purposes, due to their use in industrial applications. It is estimated that for investment purposes (jewelry, bars and coins), the annual availability of gold is roughly 120 million ounces, and of silver it is 350 million ounces. Therefore, the ratio of physical silver availability to gold availability is 350/120, or ~3:1.1

The Fed Doubles The Dosage

On December 12th, the Federal Reserve announced the most aggressive program of monetary stimulus ever undertaken in peacetime. Beginning in January, the Fed will more than double the amount of fiat money it creates each month from $40 billion to $85 billion. On an annualized basis that amounts to more than $1 trillion a year. This week we will consider 1) What they did; 2) Why they did it; and, 3) What impact it will have on asset prices over the short-term.
What They Did:
In a nutshell, the Fed announced it will more than double the amount of fiat money it creates each month and that it will use that money to buy government bonds and mortgage-backed securities until the unemployment rate drops substantially or until the inflation rate accelerates. The press release stated:
 “…the Committee will continue purchasing additional agency mortgage-backed securities at a pace of $40 billion per month. The Committee also will purchase longer-term Treasury securities … initially at a pace of $45 billion per month.”

Thursday, December 20, 2012

QE 4: Folks, This Ain't Normal

by Chris Martenson

Okay, the Fed's recent decision to boost its monetary stimulus (a.k.a. "money printing," "quantitative easing," or simply "QE") by another $45 billion a month to a combined $85 billion per month demonstrates an almost complete departure from what a normal person might consider sensible.
To borrow a phrase from Joel Salatin: Folks, this ain't normal. To this I will add ...and it will end badly.
If you had stopped me on the street a few years ago and asked me what I thought would have happened in the stock, bond, foreign currency, and commodity markets on the day the Fed announced an $85 billion per month thin-air money printing program directed at government bonds, I never would have predicted what has actually come to pass.
I would have predicted soaring stock prices on the expectation that all this money would have to end up in the stock market eventually. I would have predicted the dollar to fall because who in their right mind would want to hold the currency of a country that is borrowing 46 cents (!) out of every dollar that it is spending while its central bank monetizes 100% of that craziness?
Further, I would have expected additional strength in the government bond market, because $85 billion pretty much covers all of the expected new issuance going forward, plus many entities still need to buy U.S. bonds for a variety of fiduciary reasons. With little product for sale and lots of bids by various players, one of which – the Fed – has a magic printing press and is not just price insensitive but actually seeking to drive prices higher (and yields lower), that's a recipe for rising prices.

Paul Krugman's Dangerous Misconceptions


How to Deal with Economic History


In a recent article at the NYT entitled 'Incredible Credibility', Paul Krugman once again takes aim at those who believe it may not be a good idea to let the government's debt rise without limit. In order to understand the backdrop to this, Krugman is a Keynesian who thinks that recessions should be fought by increasing the government deficit spending and printing gobs of money. Moreover, he is a past master at presenting whatever evidence appears to support his case, while ignoring or disparaging evidence that seems to contradict his beliefs.

Among the evidence he ignores we find e.g. the 'stagflation' of the 1970's, or the inability of Japan to revive its economy in spite of having embarked on the biggest government deficit spending spree ever in a modern industrialized economy. Evidence he likes to frequently disparage is the evident success of austerity policies in the Baltic nations (evident to all but Krugman, one might say).

As readers of this blog know, we are generally of the opinion that it is in any case impossible to decide or prove points of economic theory with the help of economic history – the method Krugman seems to regularly employ. This is why we listed the evidence he ignores or disparages: the fact that there exists both plenty of evidence that contradicts his views and a much smaller body of evidence that seems to support them at an unreflected first glance, already shows that the positivist approach to economic theory must be flawed.

An economist must in fact approach things exactly the other way around, but then again it is a well-known flaw of Keynesian thinking in general that it tends to put the cart before the horse (examples for this would be the idea that one can consume oneself to economic wealth instead of saving and investing toward that goal, or that employment creates growth; it is exactly the other way around in both cases).

Friday, December 14, 2012

How the Rich Rule

By Sheldon Richman

ERNEST HEMINGWAY: I am getting to know the rich.
MARY COLUM: I think you’ll find the only difference between the rich and other people is that the rich have more money.
Irish literary critic Mary Colum was mistaken. Greater net worth is not the only way the rich differ from the rest of us—at least not in a corporatist economy. More important is influence and access to power, the ability to subordinate regular people to larger-than-human-scale organizations, political and corporate, beyond their control.
To be sure, money can buy that access, but only in certain institutional settings. In a society where state and economy were separate (assuming that’s even conceptually possible), or better yet in a stateless society, wealth would not pose the sort of threat it poses in our corporatist (as opposed to a decentralized free-market) system.
Adam Smith famously wrote in The Wealth of Nations that “[p]eople of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.” Much less famously, he continued: “It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty or justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary.”
The fact is, in the corporate state government indeed facilitates “conspiracies” against the public that could not otherwise take place. What’s more, because of this facilitation, it is reasonable to think the disparity in incomes that naturally arises by virtue of differences among human beings is dramatically exaggerated. We can identify several sources of this unnatural wealth accumulation.
A primary source is America’s financial system, which since 1914 has revolved around the government-sponsored central banking cartel, the Federal Reserve. To understand this, it must first be noted that in an advanced market economy with a well-developed division of labor, the capital market becomes the “locus for entrepreneurial decision-making,” as Walter E. Grinder and John Hagel III, writing within the perspective of the Austrian school of economics, put it in their 1977 paper, “Toward a Theory of State Capitalism: Ultimate Decision-Making and Class Structure.”

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Relevance of the Austrian School of Economics in the 21st Century

The Austrian School of Economics has prevailed through time given the relevance it has gained in understanding the way markets really work. Peter Boettke has a conversation with Luis Figueroa regarding the importance of the philosophy of economics and explains the value of its premises. They discuss the process of thinking and understanding life through an economics point of view, as a result of dynamic laws present in everyday situations. Finally, Boettke comments on the role of ethics in the Austrian School of Economics and portrays common misconceptions about these sciences.

Peter Boettke professor of economics at George Mason University, where he also serves as vice president for research, BB&T Professor for the Study of Capitalism, and research director for the Global Prosperity Initiative at the Mercatus Center. Furthermore, he is deputy director of the James M. Buchanan Center for Political Economy. He is author and coauthor of various books on economics and politics, such as: Challenging Institutional Analysis and Development: The Bloomington School, The Economic Way of Thinking, The Political Economy of Soviet Socialism: The Formative Years, among others. Boettke received his BA in economics from Grove City College, MA and PhD in economics from George Mason University.

original video source:

Where to from here?

By Gerardo Coco

We face one of the deepest crises in history. A prognosis for the economic future requires a deepening of the concepts of inflation and deflation. Without understanding their dynamic relationship and their implications is difficult to predict how things might unfold. The economic future depends on the interplay of both these forces. From the point of view of their final effects, inflation and deflation are, respectively, the devaluation and revaluation of the currency unit. The quantity theory of money developed in 1912 by the American economist Irving Fisher asserts that an increase in the money supply, all other things been equal, results in a proportional increase in the price level [1]. If the circulation of money signifies the aggregate amount of its transfers against goods, its increase must result in a price increase of all the goods. The theory must be viewed through the lens of the law of supply and demand: if money is abundant and goods are scarce, their prices increase and currency depreciates. Inflation rises when the monetary aggregate expands faster than goods. Conversely, if money is scarce, prices fall and the opposite, deflation, occurs. In this case the monetary aggregate shrinks faster than goods and as prices decrease money appreciates.