Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year Geithner

Outside of Ben Bernanke, who are you going to be able to sell Treasury securities to in 2012.

Holdings of U.S. Treasurys by foreign central banks has fallen by a record amount over the past four weeks according to the latest Federal Reserve data.

The net drop was $69 billion. Only Japan's propping up of the dollar against the yen, which resulted in the net Japanese purchase of $100 billion Treasury securities, prevented the decline in foreign holdings from becoming much worse.

It's going to become more and more difficult for the Fed to keep rates low, unless it is willing to pump enormous amounts of new money into the system.

Bob Murphy Punches Paul Krugman

Economist magazine has the police sketch:

Here's Murphy when he trained for the match:

Keynes versus Say

By Henry Hazlitt (An NYT columnist long before Paul Krugman)

Keynes's "greatest achievement," according to his admirers, was his famous "refutation" of Say's law of markets. All that it is necessary to say about this "refutation" has already been said by Benjamin M. Anderson, Jr.,[1] and Ludwig von Mises.[2] Keynes himself takes the matter so cavalierly that all he requires to "refute" Say's Law to his own satisfaction is less than four pages.

Yet some of his admirers regard this as alone securing his title to fame:
Historians fifty years from now may record that Keynes' greatest achievement was the liberation of Anglo-American economics from a tyrannical dogma, and they may even conclude that this was essentially a work of negation unmatched by comparable positive achievements. Even, however, if Keynes were to receive credit for nothing else … his title to fame would be secure … [Yet] the Keynesian attacks, though they appear to be directed against a variety of specific theories, all fall to the ground if the validity of Say's Law is assumed.[3]
It is important to realize, to begin with, as Mises[4] has pointed out, that what is called Say's law was not originally designed as an integral part of classical economics but as a preliminary — as a refutation of a fallacy that long preceded the development of economics as a recognized special branch of knowledge. Whenever business was bad, the average merchant had two explanations at hand: the evil was caused by a scarcity of money and by general overproduction. Adam Smith, in a famous passage in The Wealth of Nations,[5] exploded the first of these myths. Say devoted himself to a refutation of the second.

For a modern statement of Say's law, I turn to B. M. Anderson:
The central theoretical issue involved in the problem of postwar economic adjustment, and in the problem of full employment in the postwar period, is the issue between the equilibrium doctrine and the purchasing power doctrine.

Those who advocate vast governmental expenditures and deficit financing after the war as the only means of getting full employment, separate production and purchasing power sharply. Purchasing power must be kept above production if production is to expand, in their view. If purchasing power falls off, production will fall off.

The prevailing view among economists, on the other hand, has long been that purchasing power grows out of production. The great producing countries are the great consuming countries. The twentieth-century world consumes vastly more than the eighteenth-century world because it produces vastly more. Supply of wheat gives rise to demand for automobiles, silks, shoes, cotton goods, and other things that the wheat producer wants. Supply of shoes gives rise to demand for wheat, for silks, for automobiles, and for other things that the shoe producer wants. Supply and demand in the aggregate are thus not merely equal, but they are identical, since every commodity may be looked upon either as supply of its own kind or as demand for other things. But this doctrine is subject to the great qualification that the proportions must be right; that there must be equilibrium.[6]
Keynes's "refutation" of Say's law consists in simply ignoring this qualification.

Read the rest here.

Top 25 Most Visited EPJ Posts in 2011

1. FOX NEWS: "What is Austrian economics and who were Mises and Hayek?"

2. The National Monetary Insanity Act

3. HOT MUST SEE NIGEL FARAGE VIDEO--You Have Never Seen a Political Leader Say Anything Like This Before

4. White House: We Lied the First Time

5. Ron Paul on the Sneaky Way Congress Will Raise Taxes and Keep the War in Libya Going

6.Ron Paul's Stock Portfolio

7.Must See Video: Ron Paul on 'The Tonight Show"

8.Behind the Crash in Gold

9.Understanding Why Ron Paul Knows More About Inflation Than Does Paul Krugman

10.Soros Makes a Move to Control Global Police Forces

11. The Secretive Inner Circle of 'Occupy Wall Street'

12.Krugman Says It Would Have Been Better for the Economy if the Earthquake had Done More Damage

13. Senior Fed Economist Calls Ron Paul a Pinhead

14. The Most Endangered Federal Tax Deductions

15. A Warning to the Tea Party about Ellen Brown by Gary North

16. American Arrested in Mexico for Carrying 150 Gold Coins; Coins Seized (Second year on list!)

17. Roubini's Off the Wall History of Financial Crashes

18. Rick Perry, Massive Statist

19. The Case for IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn Being Set-Up

20. The Case for $25,000 per Ounce Gold

21. Paul Krugman Exposes Milton Friedman (Thanks to Ron Paul)

22. Another Ron Paul Critic at the Fed: "I Know Some Powerful People"

23. The Truth About Churchill, Truman, FDR, Wilson and Trotsky

24. Oh Geez, Charles Koch Advised Friedrich Hayek to Sign Up for Social Security

25.How the Elite Talk in Code (Three years on list!)

And a Happy New Year to Milton Friedman, from the Hayek Center

Taking Hayek Seriously (The Hayek Center) tweets:
We have no evidence Friedman had any understanding of Hayek's eco science & overwhelming evidence he completely lacked that understanding.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Kelly Clarkson Sees Huge Increase in Sales Since Ron Paul Tweet

The Blaze reports:
Pop singer Kelly Clarkson, the first contestant to win “American Idol,” took a lot of heat this week after she sent a message on Twitter saying she supported Ron Paul and would vote for him if he got the GOP nomination. She was skewered for those remarks. But now she may have the last laugh as one site reports sales of one her albums are skyrocketing since the endorsement.
Check out her Amazon web site, where you can listen to samples of her music. She has a great voice.


Dow Just Had It's Best Quarter Since 2003

Up 12%.

Bennie's dollars are hitting the system. Next the price-inflation.

To be noted: The S&P actually ended the year where it started. Bennie didn't start printing until well into the year. The rocket just took off in the fourth quarter, despite the eurozone madness.


Public Policy Polling on the 'Santorum Surge'

PPP writes:
Talking about a 'Santorum surge' seems to be all the rage this week but he's polling at only 3% in New Hampshire, tying him with Rick Perry and even Buddy Roemer for 6th place. His favorability is slightly under water at 39/40. It's important to remember that even the momentum from winning Iowa in 2008 was only enough to push Mike Huckabee to 11% in New Hampshire so it seems doubtful that a 2nd or 3rd place finish in the state would get Santorum into contention in the Granite State.

Former Citigroup CEO to Sell His NYC Apartment for $88 Million

This should cause everyone from plain old bankster haters to Occupy Wall Street protesters to bust a gadget.

Former Citigroup Chairman and CEO Sandy Weill just sold his NYC apartment for $88 million, a record for an NYC apartment, according to WSJ.

The highest known home sale in the U.S. was earlier this year when $100 million was paid by a Russian billionaire and investor in social-media companies, Yuri Milner, for a mansion in Silicon Valley.

Weill is in contract to sell his penthouse, plus wrap-around terrace, to the 22-year-old daughter of Dmitry Rybolovlev, another Russian billionaire, for the full $88 million asking price, reports WSJ.

In 2001, Weill became a Class A Director of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Class A Directors are Board Members who are elected by Member Banks of the Fed to represent the interests of Member Banks.

When the recent financial crisis hit, resulting in Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers going down, many at the time feared that the same might happen to Citigroup. However, the philosophy of Bernanke, Geithner and Paulson suddenly changed when crisis began to threaten Citi. Bernanke opened up the monetary spigots, Paulson went to Congress for money and Citi, Goldman along with others were stuffed with money.

The Appearance of Golden Crosses in 2012 and What It Means

There is something very fascinating occurring in the markets, golden cross formations are in various states of development in the U.S. stock market and oil market. I don't pay attention to most technical signals, other than things like head and shoulders formations, which can be explained in terms of human action. However, golden cross formations developing in key markets are quite intriguing.

A golden cross formation occurs when a 50-day moving average of price activity crosses over a 200-day moving average. This indicates that upside price activity over the recent 50 days is more intense to the upside than it was over the last 200 days ago.

If this occurs in one commodity, it is an interesting thing to watch relative to that commodity, but when it is occurring relative to oil and the US stock market, it is suggesting an across the board increase in upside price pressure.

Even more fascinating is that these golden cross movements don't occur that often. In oil, these crosses have only occurred seven times since 1984.

In the case of the Dow, according to the Bespoke research,  in the last 50 years, the golden cross on the Dow has only occurred about 20 times.

I don't view these golden cross formations as necessarily predicting strong markets ahead, by themselves,, BUT it is telling me that upward price activity is intensifying in these two key markets. If I couple this with the fact that Ben Bernanke has been printing money aggressively in recent months, it suggests to me that Bernanke's money printing is indeed making it into the markets. I believe the money in the system is strong enough to keep markets strong for some time, and if Bernanke keeps up the money printing, price activity to the upside for the stock market, oil and most other commodities will be very strong at least for the first part of 2012.

Krugman is Setting Himself Up for the Big Fall in 2012

Paul Krugman is out with his usual nonsensical commentary, Keynes Was Right.

Most fascinating is that he unintentionally laid a huge land mine in the column. He writes that Keynesian policy is not currently being applied in the U.S. and that " of these years we might actually end up taking Keynes’s advice, which is every bit as valid now as it was 75 years ago."

This means that as Bernanke's money printing impacts the economy and causes a spike in the numbers that Krugman won't be able to explain the manipulated upturn in the economy in terms of the government implementing Keynesian policy recommendations.

What's he going to do? The economy will be going up and he is on record as saying Keynes wasn't in the game.

In truth, what is going on is what always goes on in these boom-bust cycles. It is only explained correctly by Austrian business cycle theory. The cycle is a complete creation of central banks. In the U.S., it's  the Federal Reserve. The Fed prints money, which gooses the capital goods sector. Eventually, fearing price inflation caused by the money printing, the Fed stops the printing, which causes the bust phase.

Recently, Bernanke has been on a new money expansionary phase, which is likely to result in manipulated gains in the type of data that Krugman watches. But only ABCT will be able to explain it. Since Keynesians like Krugman currently believe that not enough Keynesian-type fiscal policy has been implemented to turn the economy around, they will have no way to explain Bernanke's induced manipulated boom. This will mean kaboom for Krugman.

Meet Mitt "The Flipper" Romney and The Original

Justin Raimondo Predictions for 2012

1) War with Iran – One could argue we are already at war with Iran, what with US support for the terrorist Jundallah – a Sunni extremist group with links to al-Qaeda – which is attacking Iranian civilians and wreaking havoc in Iranian Baluchistan. Also, the sanctions we have imposed on Iran are, in themselves, acts of war – and we’ve seen how Iran is responding with threats to block the Strait of Hormuz, which a great deal of the world’s oil must pass through. The odds of a minor incident in this volatile region blowing up into a major confrontation are quite high. Adding fuel to the fire: continuing US efforts to destabilize Syria, an Iranian ally, could prove to be the tripwire that drags us into war with Tehran. Moves by Hezbollah to shore up the Syrian Ba’athists could bring in Israel – and ultimately the US.

In line with my theory of “libertarian realism” – the idea that domestic political considerations determine a nation’s actions on the international stage – I’ll note that the number one force pushing for war with Iran is the indefatigable Israel lobby, which has been beating the war drums for years now and has the full support of both parties in Congress. Sure, the American people don’t want war – but since when have they had any say in our foreign policy?

Probability: 65%

2) Deteriorating relations with Russia – This isn’t really a prediction, it’s a reality. The recent Russian election brought the downgrading of Russo-American relations to the fore, but the fact is that this has been the case ever since Russian strongman Vladimir Putin rose from the ashes of the Soviet collapse and imposed some semblance of order on a nation in the midst of a meltdown. American antipathy to Russia is largely a matter of habit – after half a century of the cold war, fear of the Russians is embedded in the consciousness of the American elites – but much of it has to do with distrust of any foreign leader who seems too strong for our own good. The Americans thought they could gobble up the pieces of the shattered Soviet empire with little or no trouble, and were surprised when Putin pulled his country out of the trash bin of history and started challenging the American would-be hegemon. While war is not an option, internal subversion most certainly is, and if any enterprising journalist wants to trace the financial links between the US government and the various Russian “dissidents” at the head of the “democratic” opposition, he or she will uncover a thriving industry.

Probability: 99%

3) The “Arab Spring” comes to the Kingdom – The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, that is. We have already seen some of this in the Eastern, predominantly Shi’ite provinces, but the coming rebellion promises to be broader. There is simply no way for the Kingdom to block the influx of democratic-secular ideas flooding into the region, and the regime’s vaunted economic invulnerability is increasingly threatened by the global downturn. The emirates and sheikdoms of the Gulf have already been hit with protests, and what is happening in Bahrain may provide, in miniature, a look into the Kingdom’s future.

Probability: 50%

Read the rest here.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Bachmann Fires Iowa Political Director Over His Defense of Bachmann Supporter who Jumped to the Ron Paul Camp

Following news that the then Iowa Chairman for U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s campaign for the presidency, Ken Sorenson, had defected to the Ron Paul camp, Bachmann made claims that Sorenson defected for financial reasons.

Both Sorenson and the Ron Paul camp have denied that any monetary payment was made to Sorenson.

The absurdity of the Bachmann claim resulted in Iowa political director for the Bachmann Presidential campaign, Wes Enos, coming to the defense of Sorenson. He issued this statement:
I won’t say much about the situation or the conflicting statements beyond this; I can say unequivocally that Kent Sorenson’s decision was, in no way financially motivated. His decision had more to do with the fact that the Ron Paul supporters have been something of a family to him since he was first elected in 2008 and here in the end, as it becomes more and more apparent that the caucus cycle is coming to an end, Kent believed that he needed to be with them as they stand on the cusp of a potential caucus upset. While I personally disagree with Kent’s decision, and plan to stay with Michele Bachmann because I truly believe in her, I cannot, in good conscious watch a good man like Kent Sorenson be attacked as a ‘sell-out’ ….That is simply not the case, and it was not the basis of his decision.
Following this statement issued by Enos, Bachmann fired Enos.

The sound you hear is the Bachmann campaign disintegrating in mid-air.


Five Occupy Protesters Arrested at Ron Paul's Iowa Headquarters

Five Occupy protesters were arrested Thursday outside the Iowa campaign headquarters of Ron Paul.

The Occupy movement has been harassing all Republican presidential candidates in Iowa.

Occupy spokeswoman Danielle Ryun said more protests, and probably arrests, will come. According to Ryun, the protest at the Paul headquarters was aimed at Dr. Paul's proposal to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency, if elected.

Got that? The protesters are up in arms because Dr. Paul wants to eliminate a bureaucratic, politically charged agency that has no understanding of how private property rights would solve most of the problems the EPA is "policing", for the benefit of crony corporate insiders.

In other words, these occupiers appear as clueless as the youth protesters that Ludwig von Mises described as roaming through Germany before World War I. Wrote Mises:
But the characteristic feature of the youth movement was that they had neither new ideas nor plans. They called their action the youth movement precisely because they lacked any program which they could use to give a name to their endeavors. In fact they espoused entirely the program of their parents. They did not oppose the trend toward government omnipotence and bureaucratization.

Does Russian Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov Have Any Idea What Is Going on in the Eurozone?

Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who is challenging Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in March’s presidential election, says he will push for a common currency with the European Union if elected, reports AP.

Hey Vladi, I think you can win this straight. Just explain to the Russian people how insane it would be to hook up with the eurozone, that it would mean higher taxes for Russians so the party can continue in Greece, Spain and Italy.

The Growing Police State: When Will They Handcuff You?

No question, there is a new crazed empowerment that many police officers and other government officials feel. If the state gets completely out of control, whose side do you think these out-of-control juiced up officials will be on?:

This couple were arrested for asking directions:

and get a load of this, via NyPo:
A tourist from Tennessee waltzed into one of the most secure sites in the city — and politely asked a cop if she could check her weapon. 
Instead, she was dragged out in cuffs.

Now, Meredith Graves, 39, is facing at least three years in prison for thinking New York’s gun laws are anything like those in the Bible Belt.

Graves, a fourth-year medical student, showed up at the memorial on Dec. 22 to pay her respects during a trip north for a job interview.

She didn’t realize that the loaded .32-caliber pistol in her purse would be a problem until she saw a sign at the site that read, “No guns allowed,” sources said.

“She remembered she had the gun on her,” a source said. She walked up to a security guard and said, “I have this gun. Where can I check it?”

The guard told her that she was in luck because of “law enforcement day” — and led her to another area. 
When she got to that section, she asked another cop, “We have this gun — can we check it in here? We [my husband and I] are not law-enforcement.”

That’s when she was arrested.

Graves, who has a full legal carry permit in Tennessee, was locked up on a weapons-possession charge and held on $2,000 bond that she posted yesterday. She is due in court on March 19.

She’ll soon find out exactly how serious New York City is about illegal guns. The Manhattan DA’s Office is pursuing a conviction on felony gun possession — carrying a minimum sentence of 3 1/2 years.
There's something happening here and it's not good. In the old days, you were warned about loony tune laws and given a chance to comply. Now, even if you attempt to comply, you may get cuffed. Not good and very scary.

Especially when you have expanding "suspioncionless" searches.

New Hampshire Union-Leader Publisher: "Ron Paul is a Dangerous Man"

Yeah, to the ruling elite.

Politico reports:

“Ron Paul is a dangerous man,”[New Hampshire Union-Leader publisher Joe] McQuaid wrote. “While his domestic libertarian views are quite attractive to some voters fed up with politics as usual, it is Paul’s position on issues of our national security that are truly dangerous.”

“His defenders say they admire Ron Paul’s ‘consistency,’ ” McQuaid continued. “It is true, Paul has been consistently spouting this nonsense. It is about time New Hampshire voters showed him the door.”

Paul adviser Jesse Benton shrugged off the McQuaid editorial, saying Paul “is bound to take a lot of arrows from supporters of the status quo, but he has broad shoulders and will never stop fighting for what is right.”

Oh Brother (John Carney-MMT Edition)

CNBC's John Carney tweets:

Just gave a plug for MMT on [CNBC's]Power Lunch!

A Liberal Explains How Ron Paul Runs His Congressional Office in a Way That's Different from Other Congressmen

Matt Stoller, who was the former Senior Policy Advisor to Rep. Alan Grayson and is currently a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, writes:
My perspective of Paul comes from working with his staff in 2009-2010 on issues of war and the Federal Reserve. Paul was one of my then-boss Alan Grayson’s key allies in Congress on these issues, though on most issues of course he and Paul were diametrically opposed. How Paul operated his office was different than most Republicans, and Democrats. An old Congressional hand once told me, and then drilled into my head, that every Congressional office is motivated by three overlapping forces – policy, politics, and procedure. And this is true as far as it goes. An obscure redistricting of two Democrats into one district that will take place in three years could be the motivating horse-trade in a decision about whether an important amendment makes it to the floor, or a possible opening of a highly coveted committee slot on Appropriations due to a retirement might cause a policy breach among leadership. Depending on committee rules, a Sub-Committee chairman might have to get permission from a ranking member or Committee Chairman to issue a subpoena, sometimes he might not, and sometimes he doesn’t even have to tell his political opposition about it. Congress is endlessly complex, because complexity can be a useful tool in wielding power without scrutiny. And every office has a different informal matrix, so you have to approach each of them differently.

Paul’s office was dedicated, first and foremost, to his political principles, and his work with his grassroots base reflects that. Politics and procedure simply didn’t matter to him. My main contact in Paul’s office even had his voicemail set up with special instructions for those calling about HR 1207, which was the number of the House bill to audit the Federal Reserve. But it wasn’t just the Fed audit – any competent liberal Democratic staffer in Congress can tell you that Paul will work with anyone who seeks his ends of rolling back American Empire and its reach into foreign countries, auditing the Federal Reserve, and stopping the drug war

New York Times in Error Offers 50% Discount to NYT to 8.6 Million People; They Will Not Honor

I got one, did you?

NYT's arch rival NyPo has the details:
The New York Times blundered twice yesterday — first telling more than 8 million people via e-mail that they had canceled their subscriptions, then claiming, erroneously, that the e-mail deluge was all due to spam.

The comedy of errors began at 1:20 p.m. when 8.6 million e-mails from the Times were sent out addressed to “Dear Home Delivery Subscriber.”

The message said that the Times’ records show that the recipients had recently canceled their subscriptions and begged them to come back for an “exclusive rate of 50 percent off for 16 weeks.”

“We do hope you’ll reconsider,” the e-mail said.

The e-mail seemed legit: It was sent from an address listed as:

It told recipients to contact an 877 telephone number if they were interested.

But callers to the number either got a busy signal or a message that said, “Due to high call volume, your call cannot be completed at this time.”

Within an hour, the newspaper realized that its mass e-mail had flooded in-boxes. But the Times told media reporters that it was the victim, not the perpetrator.

“The e-mail is SPAM and was not sent from The New York Times. We are alerting subscribers immediately,” the paper told reporters by e-mail at 2:08 p.m. “That’s our immediate concern. When we learn more, we will let you know. ”

About the same time, the Times’ Twitter feed said, “If you received an e-mail today about canceling your NYT subscription, ignore it. It’s not from us.”

But it was from the paper. The Times’ story changed drastically by 3:29 when the paper’s media reporter Amy Chozik tweeted, “The e-mail was sent by the NYT, a spokeswoman said. Should’ve gone to approx 300 & went to over 8 mil.” 
That message was passed on to reporters at 3:47 in an e-mail that retracted the earlier spam claim and admitted the Times was the source of the e-mail flood.

“The e-mail should have been sent to a very small number of subscribers but instead was sent to a vast subscription list made up of people who had previously provided their e-mail address to The New York Times,” the paper said. “We regret the error and we regret our earlier communication noting that this e-mail was SPAM.”

The Times also went back to the 8.6 million, apologizing for “any confusion” this may have caused.

By 4:28 the Times Web site told the rest of the world of the apparent “send-to-all blunder made by a Times employee.
It added that the newspaper had “initially mischaracterized the mishap as spam.”...

Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said...the newspaper would not extend the 50 percent discount offer to the 8.6 million who received the faulty e-mail.

10 Commodities that Are Going to Give Krugman Nightmares in 2012

Paul "There’s really nothing here to shake my view that deflation, not inflation, is the threat" Krugman is going to have nightmares in 2012. While Krugman talks about a "core inflation" that removes food an energy from it's index.The real core, that is the the things we really need to survive, milk, cattle, gasoline and heating oil, all soared in 2011 (see chart below). They are the real indication of what is going on with prices. We can survive without, at least for awhile, copper, lumber, zinc and nickel, BUT energy and milk fuel us, in one way or another, every day, and those are the prices that soared in 2011, along with gold,,  rice (+15.27%), peanuts (14.75%) coarse wool (13.58%) and potassium chloride(+27.89%). Given the money printing rampage that Bernanke has been on in recent months, none of these commodities are going to stop climbing in 2012, but most others will likely join them. Yeah, Krugman will likely pull urea (+30.20%) from his index, but when all other prices are climbing, he will have to resort to his smoothing tricks, to show that prices really aren't going up.

LastYTD % Change
Feeder Cattle150.27521.24%
Gas Oil921.2519.95%
Brent Crude Oil109.2715.32%
Heating Oil2.908514.40%
Live Cattle123.213.71%
Crude Oil101.3410.90%
RBOB Gasoline2.688810.64%
Lean Hogs85.757.52%
Source: CNBC Analytics/Thomson Reuters

Nine Unusual Ways to Get Yourself Off the Floor

To get out out of the fetal position and off the floor, James Altucher says you need a pen, a waiter pad and maybe a small computer (with a Kindle app)on the floor with you.

It's another Altucher special where he even shares with us what he does in the shower and what he thinks others are doing in the shower. It's all right here.

Chavez: U.S. May Have Caused My Cancer

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is hinting that the U.S. may be behind a “very strange” bout of cancer affecting several leaders aligned with him in South America, reports Bloomberg.

Chavez, speaking a day after Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, said the Central Intelligence Agency was behind chemical experiments in Guatemala in the 1940s and that it’s possible that in years to come a plot will be uncovered that shows the U.S. spread cancer as a political weapon against its critics.

“It’s very difficult to explain, even with the law of probabilities, what has been happening to some of us in Latin America,” Chavez said in a nationally televised speech to the military. “Would it be so strange that they’ve invented technology to spread cancer and we won’t know about it for 50 years?”

Chavez, who was diagnosed with an undisclosed form of cancer in June and had a baseball-sized tumor removed in Cuba, has called for a regional summit of leaders who have battled cancer including Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, her predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva and Paraguay’s Fernando Lugo.

This shouldn't come as a surprise to EPJ readers. This is what I wrote in August:
Chavez has recently been undergoing treatment for what many suspect is cancer. Talk in certain parts of D.C. is that the CIA has slowly exposed him to very toxic, cancer causing materials.
I doubled-down on this theory in October, when I wrote:
Connecting the Dots: Gaddafi is Dead, Obama Sends Troops to Central Africa

The United States government is playing a major global power game...This is in addition to everything else that is going on in the Middle East. And my very strong suspicions about the cancer that Hugo Chavez is suffering with. A huge global chess game is being played. PCR [Paul Craig Robert]'s closing question is most apt:

Will the US collapse in economic chaos before it rules the world?
If I am looking at what is going on on the global map and I am Vladimir Putin, I'm worried, real worried.


Who Is Ron Paul Really?


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

HOT: Bachmann's Campaign Chair Defects To Ron Paul

Alexander Burns at Politico reports:
In a shock announcement Wednesday night, Iowa state senator and onetime Michele Bachmann campaign leader Kent Sorenson declared that he is now supporting Ron Paul for president.

Sorenson made the announcement at a Paul rally with veterans here in Des Moines, telling the crowd: "I believe we're at a turning point in this campaign."

Calling the decision to abandon Bachmann a painful one, Sorenson said he felt obligated to join Paul as the "Republican establishment" tries to undermine his campaign.

"I thought it was my duty to come to his aid, just like he came to my aid during my Senate race, which was a very nasty race," Sorenson said, pledging to go all-out for Paul over the next few days.

To cheers from the crowd, he continued: "We're going to take Ron Paul all the way to the White House."


Public Policy Polling: Newsletters Not Hurting Ron Paul in Iowa

Slate's David Weigel explains:
Think about it. If Ron Paul was suffering and taking damage from the stories about his old newsletters, what sort of voters would abandon him?...Well, everybody, hopefully, but you'd expect independents, Democrats and liberals, the people boosting Paul in Iowa and New Hampshire, to react the most negatively.
According to the Public Policy Polling survey of Iowa, this isn't happening. This was Paul's favorability with Democrats and independents one week ago. 
Screen shot 2011-12-28 at 9.07.31 AM
This is his favorability today. 
Screen shot 2011-12-28 at 9.07.39 AM
 That's a clear trend: Paul's number are notably up with Democrats, making up for some slippage with Republicans. 

Ron Paul and Black Folk

An African-American friend, who is a straight-shooter herself and has had her entanglements with the elite of the elite, emails me and says:

Obama better look out.
Lots of folks - including black folks - think like TMOT.
They are sick and tired of all the BULLSHIT and lies.
Ron Paul appeals to them b/c he is a straight shooter.

Will the Strait of Hormuz Turn Into the Next Pearl Harbor?

Many revisionist historians believe that the United States goaded Japan into attacking Pearl Harbor.

The historian Percy Greaves believed that the attack on December 7, 1941 was neither unexpected nor unprovoked. As his wife, Betina Bien Greaves explained:
[Greaves] was the main counsel for the Republican minority on the Joint Congressional Committee that investigated Pearl Harbor from 1945 to 1946.He attended all its hearings, interviewed many Army, Navy, and Washington principals involved in the attack and in the investigations. He researched diplomatic documents, studied reports and accounts of the event published during the years that followed. He researched diplomatic documents, studied reports and accounts of the event published during the years that followed. This book [Pearl Harbor: The Seeds and Fruits of Infamy] is not about the attack itself. It is about never before presented pre-attack and post-attack events, from the Washington point of view. Without name-calling, innuendo, or slander, Greaves simply presents the pertinent, significant and relevant facts which led the Japanese to attack and the political administration to want to cover-up its involvement.
.Burton Folsom Jr and Anita Folsom write in their new book, FDR Goes to War:
Roosevelt...employed the devious strategy of hindering all oil exports to Japan by adding layers of red tape and freezing Japan's financial assets in what has been called "a silent embargo"...The effect, by late 1941, was a trickle of oil actually going to Japan from the United States.
Bottom line, the U.S. backed Japan into a corner. It was very unwise for the Japanese to attack Pearl Harbor, but the irritation that caused the attack can be clearly seen.

What does this have to do with Iran? Well, we have already frozen some of their assets. On June 29, 2011, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced the designation of Iran’s national police for providing support to the Syrian regime. The chief and deputy chief of Iran’s national police was also sanctioned.. As a result of the action, U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with the designees and any assets they may have subject to U.S. jurisdiction are frozen.

On December 20, 2011 U.S. Treasury announced the designation of 10 shipping and other companies and one individual based in Malta affiliated with the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), as entities facing international sanctions for involvement in" Iran’s efforts to advance its missile programs and transport military cargoes."

“As IRISL and its subsidiaries continue their deceptive efforts to escape the grasp of U.S. and international sanctions, we will continue to take action—as we are today—to expose the front companies, agents and managers working with IRISL and work to stop this illicit business,” said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen.

On December 1, 2011 Cohen told the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations:
The Treasury Department’s increasingly powerful and disruptive sanctions are embedded in the dual-track strategy that the United States and our allies are pursuing to address Iran’s continued failure to meet its international obligations regarding its nuclear program. As Under Secretary Sherman describes in her testimony, the Obama Administration has presented Iran with a genuine opportunity for dialogue, creating a clear choice for Tehran. Iran’s leadership can choose to meet Iran’s international obligations, allowing Iran to deepen its economic and political integration with the world and achieve greater security and prosperity for the Iranian people. Or, Tehran can continue to flout its responsibilities and face even greater pressure and isolation...

Our broad-based pressure strategy is aimed at persuading Iran to change its course and to make clear to Iran the consequences of its continued intransigent behavior. Among the most important elements of this strategy are targeted financial measures designed to disrupt Iran’s illicit activity and to protect the international financial system from Iran’s abuse. We have focused our efforts on exposing Iranian entities’ illicit and deceptive activities, an approach that has garnered support among foreign governments and led them to take similar actions, enhancing substantially the impact of our actions. Because these actions have highlighted the pervasive nature of Iran’s illicit and deceptive conduct and the reputational risks associated with Iran-related business, the private sector around the world has taken notice and has often taken voluntary steps beyond their strict legal obligations, further amplifying government actions.
So what is the big deal? The United States is about to  up the ante and  dramatically financially isolate Iran. I am talking about the U.S. significantly cutting off Iran's access to oil revenues.

The U.S. Congress just passed a bill that President Obama appears ready to sign that, if fully implemented, could substantially reduce Iran’s oil revenue.

In other words, the U.S. is backing Iran into a corner. The bill could impose penalties on foreign firms that do business with Iran's central bank. Since those that import Iranian oil use the Iranian central bank for the transactions, it would likely cut off that method of Iran selling oil.

Iran is reacting as you would expect most cornered governments would act. Iran’s first vice president Mohammad Reza Rahimid said that Iran could shut down the critical shipping lanes through the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf, if foreign sanctions are imposed on its oil exports.

The Strait of Hormuz is very important. About 33% of seaborne oil shipments (17% of world oil) go through the Strait of Hormuz. A blocked Strait would force tankers to take longer, more expensive routes that would most assuredly drive oil prices higher.

The thinking has always been that Iran wouldn't shut down the Strait of Hormuz because they use it for their own export of oil. Indeed, in an EPJ Daily Alert in November 2010, I reported:
This afternoon I attended a meeting where the speaker was Capitan Jeffrey Kline. Kline is the Program Director, Maritime Defense and Security Research Programs, Naval Postgraduate School. He is an Adjunct Professor at the Naval War College where he teaches, "Joint Analysis for the Warfare Commander"...Kline...pointed out that it might not be in Iran's interest to close the strait since Iran ships its oil through the Strait.
But, if the United States makes it impossible for Iran to sell its oil, then a key factor that would stop Iran from blocking the strait would be removed.

Does Iran have the capability to block the Strait of Hormuz? I also put that question to Captain Kline. Here's how I reported it in the EPJ Daily Alert:
I thought I would ask Kline, who might have a pretty damn good idea,if the Strait could be closed by Iran. His answer was it could. When I asked him how long it would take, he said 3 or 4 days for Iran to position ships and lay mines. He did say that the blockade could eventually be broken, but it would depend upon international co-operation and that it would take "some time". He said that Iran has missiles onshore aimed at the strait that would have to be taken out,and that Iran had other sophisticated equipment in the area including drones that could listen in on ship communications. He said ship mine sweeping can also get "very tricky".
According to AP:
The [Iranian] navy is in the midst of a 10-day drill in international waters near the strategic oil route. The exercises began Saturday and involve submarines, missile drills, torpedoes and drones. The war games cover a 1,250-mile (2,000-kilometer) stretch of sea off the Strait of Hormuz, northern parts of the Indian Ocean and into the Gulf of Aden near the entrance to the Red Sea as a show of strength and could bring Iranian ships into proximity with U.S. Navy vessels in the area.
Bizarrely, the U.S. has warned Iran that it will not tolerate any disruption of naval traffic through the Strait of Hormuz, that's like stealing a bully's wallet and telling him to shut up and deal with it.

It may not have made any strategic sense for Japan to attack Pearl Harbor, but sometimes you push and push and you get a reaction. The U.S. got a reaction out of Japan. It was Pearl Harbor. The legislation that President Obama is about to sign is a spit in the face of Iran, if it is used to shutdown Iran's ability to sell oil. It may get a reaction out of Iran: The blocking of the Strait of Hormuz.

This is a very high stakes game. No one knows how it will play out. Governments are generally run by mad men, and it is mad men that will decide the next move here.

The Federal Reserve's Unauthorized Massive Bailout of Europe (and Possibly Japan)

On Monday of this week, I posted a commentary by Ron Paul calling for the halt of a coming  Federal Reserve bailout out of Europe (The Coming Fed Bailout of Europe Must Be Stopped!)

Now, beltarian insider Gerald O'Driscoll (former vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and later at Citigroup and now a senior fellow at the Cato Institute) warns, in WSJ, that the bailout that Ron Paul warned about has started, when one examines the latest Fed reports.

O'Drsicoll writes:
This Byzantine financial arrangement could hardly be better designed to confuse observers, and it has largely succeeded on this side of the Atlantic, where press coverage has been light.
Perhaps MSM is spending time on what Dr. Paul didn't write 20 plus years ago versus what he is actually writing now.

Here's O'Driscoll warning about what Dr. Paul spotted:
America's central bank, the Federal Reserve, is engaged in a bailout of European banks. Surprisingly, its operation is largely unnoticed here. [Except for Ron Paul-rw]

The Fed is using what is termed a "temporary U.S. dollar liquidity swap arrangement" with the European Central Bank (ECB). There are similar arrangements with the central banks of Canada, England, Switzerland and Japan. Simply put, the Fed trades or "swaps" dollars for euros. The Fed is compensated by payment of an interest rate (currently 50 basis points, or one-half of 1%) above the overnight index swap rate. The ECB, which guarantees to return the dollars at an exchange rate fixed at the time the original swap is made, then lends the dollars to European banks of its choosing.

Why are the Fed and the ECB doing this? The Fed could, after all, lend directly to U.S. branches of foreign banks. It did a great deal of lending to foreign banks under various special credit facilities in the aftermath of Lehman's collapse in the fall of 2008. Or, the ECB could lend euros to banks and they could purchase dollars in foreign-exchange markets. The world is, after all, awash in dollars.

The two central banks are engaging in this roundabout procedure because each needs a fig leaf. The Fed was embarrassed by the revelations of its prior largess with foreign banks. It does not want the debt of foreign banks on its books. A currency swap with the ECB is not technically a loan.
O'Driscoll then goes on to detail a bit of bailout history and report on how the bailout is cranking up again:
The Fed had more than $600 billion of currency swaps on its books in the fall of 2008. Those draws were largely paid down by January 2010. As recently as a few weeks ago, the amount under the swap renewal agreement announced last summer was $2.4 billion. For the week ending Dec. 14, however, the amount jumped to $54 billion. For the week ending Dec. 21, the total went up by a little more than $8 billion. The aforementioned $33 billion three-month loan was not picked up because it was only booked by the ECB on Dec. 22, falling outside the Fed's reporting week. Notably, the Bank of Japan drew almost $5 billion in the most recent week. Could a bailout of Japanese banks be afoot? (All data come from the Federal Reserve Board H.4.1. release, the New York Fed's Swap Operations report, and the ECB website.)
Aside from the obvious inflationary consequences of printing more dollars via swaps (even though they start off in Europe those dollars could easily hit these shores) O'Driscoll lists a number of other problems with the swaps, including the fact that they are illegal:
First, the Fed has no authority for a bailout of Europe. My source for that judgment? Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke met with Republican senators on Dec. 14 to brief them on the European situation. After the meeting, Sen. Lindsey Graham told reporters that Mr. Bernanke himself said the Fed did not have "the intention or the authority" to bail out Europe. The week Mr. Bernanke promised no bailout, however, the size of the swap lines to the ECB ballooned by around $52 billion.

Second, these Federal Reserve swap arrangements foster the moral hazards and distortions that government credit allocation entails. Allowing the ECB to do the initial credit allocation—to favored banks and then, some hope, through further lending to spendthrift EU governments—does not make the problem better.

Third, the nontransparency of the swap arrangements is troublesome in a democracy. To his credit, Mr. Bernanke has promised more openness and better communication of the Fed's monetary policy goals. The swap arrangements are at odds with his promise. It is time for the Fed chairman to provide an honest accounting to Congress of what is going on.

TMOT: The Minister of Truth on CNN and Ron Paul

Gary Johnson Announces Libertarian Bid

Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson has announced his bid to become the presidential nominee of the Libertarian Party.

Johnson lists his agenda as follows:
- I want to end deficit spending and cut federal spending by 43%.

- I want to enact the Fair Tax to stimulate real economic growth and jobs.

- I want to end the manipulation of our money by the Federal Reserve.

- I support the Second Amendment and oppose gun control.

- I oppose expensive foreign wars in places like Libya and Afghanistan.

- I support a woman's right to choose.

- I support marriage equality for gay Americans as required by the Constitution.

- I support legalization of marijuana, which will save us billions and do no harm.

- I support returning strict adherence to Constitutional principles to our government.
It does seem a bit odd that a "Libertarian candidate" would have a more establishment, interventionist agenda than Ron Paul, who is running on the Republican Party ticket, but that is what you get from Johnson.

Whereas Ron Paul calls for the abolition of the IRS, Johnson merely calls for a "Fair Tax", which is simply moving taxes around on the board.

Whereas Ron Paul wants to abolish the Fed, Johnson merely wants to end Fed manipulation of money, whatever that means.

Whereas Ron Paul is in favor of ending the drug war in its entirety, Johnson merely wants to legalize marijuana, failing to go as far as Ron Paul, who would also be in favor of legalizing heroin, cocaine and any other drugs.

Bottom line, Gary Johnson is Ron Paul lite. Why would anyone vote for Gary Johnson, when you have the real thing, without any hedging, in Ron Paul?

Public Policy Polling: Ron Paul in the Lead

The first post-Christmas poll is out and it was conducted by Public Policy Polling, a group I consider the most accurate pollsters in the country. PPP writes:

The last week and a half has brought little change in the standings for the Iowa Republican caucus: Ron Paul continues to lead Mitt Romney by a modest margin, 24-20. Newt Gingrich is in 3rd at 13% followed by Michele Bachmann at 11%, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum at 10%, Jon Huntsman at 4%, and Buddy Roemer at 2%.

Paul's strength in Iowa continues to depend on a coalition of voters that's pretty unusual for a Republican in the state. Romney leads 22-20 with those who are actually Republicans, while Paul has a 39-12 advantage with the 24% who are either independents or Democrats. GOP caucus voters tend to skew old, and Romney has a 34-12 advantage with seniors. But Paul's candidacy looks like it's going to attract an unusual number of younger voters to the caucus this year, and with those under 45 he has a 35-11 advantage on Romney. The independent/young voter combo worked for Barack Obama in securing an unexpectedly large victory on the Democratic side in 2008 and it may be Paul's winning equation in 2012.

Paul continues to have much more passionate support than Romney. 77% of his voters are firmly committed to him, compared to 71% for Romney. Among voters who say their minds are completely made up Paul's lead expands to 7 points at 28-21. If Paul's lead holds on through next Tuesday it appears he'll have won this on the ground- 26% of voters think he's run the strongest campaign in the state to 18% for Bachmann and 10% for Santorum with just 5% bestowing that designation to Romney. There's also an increasing sense that Paul will indeed win the state- 29% think he'll emerge victorious with 15% picking Romney and no one else in double digits....

Newt Gingrich just keeps on sliding. He's gone from 27% to 22% to 14% to 13% over the course of our four Iowa tracking polls. His favorability numbers are pretty abysmal now at 37/54 and only 32% of likely voters think that he has strong principles to 45% who believe he does not. Once the darling of Tea Party voters in the state, he's now slipped to third with that group behind Bachmann and Paul. There's not much reason to think Gingrich can return to his former strong standing in the state in the final week.

Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum continue to all be clustered right around 10%. Santorum actually has the best favorability numbers of any of the candidates at +27 (56/29). He's also the most frequent second choice of voters at 14%. Whether he can translate any of this into a top 3 finish remains to be seen, but he's someone who would seem to have the potential to grow his support in the final week.

One thing that's hurt Santorum's ability to really make a move is that the Evangelical vote is incredibly fragmented with 6 different candidates getting between 12 and 21%. Paul actually leads the way with that group at 21% to 16% for Romney and Bachmann, 15% for Santorum, 14% for Gingrich, and 12% for Perry....

Iowa looks like a 2 person race between Paul and Romney as the campaign enters its final week. If Paul can really change the electorate by turning out all these young people and independents who don't usually vote in Republican caucuses, he'll win. If turnout ends up looking a little bit more traditional, Romney will probably prevail.

The full PPP results are here.

An MMTer on Carney's View of Austrian -MMT Similarities

MMTer Cullen Roche has also responded to John Carney's view on the similarities between Austrian economics and MMT.

I don't agree with most of Roche's MMT views, and I am not sure that he gets exactly what the differences are between Austrian economics and MMT, but he knows there are some. He writes:
But while there are certainly elements of Austrian economics that MMTers agree with there is one large hurdle….

I agree with John that there are more overlaps than most presume. But the largest hurdle is substantial. MMT is based on the state theory of money. We acknowledge that anything can be money. Gold can be money, pieces of paper can be money, credit cards can be money, a simple promise can be money. But what MMTers are very precise about is the fact that a sovereign nation with monopoly supply of currency in a floating exchange rate system names that which is money as defined in economic terms within that particular nation.
I don't think you will find Austrians disputing that the dollar is the medium of exchange in the United States, what they will dispute is that the medium of exchange must be defined and managed by the government of a country. This is simply not so, there is no theoretical reason why a country could not operate on a gold coin standard that was not in any way managed by government. THAT is a big difference between Austrians and MMTers.

Roche also writes:
We can quibble over the size of that government (I tend to prefer less government than most other MMTers), but we cannot ignore the reality that governments exist for very practical purposes and will likely always exist in some form (if for no other purpose than to provide a legal system and a coordinated military). Austrians tend to veer towards the misconception that governments are these exogenous entities that infringe on our personal liberties when the truth is that we create governments for some public purpose. We do not create governments to impose hardship on ourselves. That’s not to say that governments can’t become corrupt or excessive, but it’s rather naive to claim that a moderately sized government cannot provide some level of services that benefit the society as a whole.
Again, I reference Rothbard, who states quite clearly that when choices are left up to the government, there is no way to measure how they "benefit society" and that they are for the most part act as a negative on society.

As far as I can determine the views on issue after issue tend to be much different between the Austrian camp and the MMT camp. The MMTers have nothing, zero, to offer Austrians.

Ron Paul's 'END THE FED' -- On Unabridged Audiobook -- On Sale

Chris Gaillard emails that Ron Paul's "End the Fed" book is now on sale, in an unabridged audio version, for $9.95 at

It's Okay for Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman to Prepare for Disaster, But Not Ron Paul

So says, Modeled Behavior's Adam Ozimek.

It should be noted that when Ozimek discusses Ron Paul's "crazy beliefs about the probability of economic collapse." He is talking about Ron Paul's investments in gold stocks and gold itself. Yet, Ozimek, along with others who have brought up the topic, never, ever mention that Dr. Paul's portfolio has skyrocketed because of his investment in gold and gold related stocks. And that he is likely the most successful investor in the history of Congress.

But somehow this is not okay, according to Ozimek, but Romney and Huntsman have the green light to stockpile two years worth of dried food:
If Romney and Huntsman are actually prepping, what does it tell them about them? Should this be considered a “crazy belief” of theirs as Paul’s prepping is for him? I don’t think so. Their preparations don’t tell us much about how probable they actually think a disaster is, but rather reflect them adhering to a tradition.
Though Ozimek then contradicts himself and  appears to think that if Romney and Huntsman are storing food it is crazy, but it still is okay, becasue, and this is crazy, if others hold the same crazy idea, it is okay.
And at the very least religious beliefs are so widespread that I don’t think they all have the same correlation with other crazy beliefs as, say, believing an society destroying economic collapse is coming soon.
Screw analysis, screw theoretical understanding of the economy, according to Ozimek, it's all about how many others agree with your crazy idea.

Crazy man, crazy.

Julian Assange on The New York Times

A fascinating segment from an interview with Julian Assange.

In part eight of the interview, Assange talks about how the New York Times and the Guardian sought clearance from the U.S. State Department and National Security Council to publish select Cablegate content.

NYTX Editor Chris Spannos interviewed Julian Assange on September 26, 2011. Interview segments have been released through the months of October, November, and December.

Within the entirety of the  interview Assange talks about partnering with the Times to release the Afghan and Iraq War Logs, the Times treatment of Cablegate, Bradley Manning, the Pentagon Papers, WikiLeaks, and much more. The complete interview ran approximately 90 minutes.

See part one of the interview here:

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Rejoinder to John Carney on MMT and Austrian Economics

CNBC's John Carney has responded to my earlier comments on his favorable view of Modern Monetary Theory.

In his response, Carney writes:
The MMTers believe that the modern monetary system—sovereign fiat money, unlinked to any commodity and unpegged to any other currency—that exists in the United States, Canada, Japan, the UK and Australia allows governments to operate without revenue constraints. They can never run out of money because they create the money they spend.
Here is problem one with Carney's view of MMT. MMTers do not hold that all fiat money is the same. Although they object to Federal Reserve notes, they see no problem with a fiat currency being issued they call "US notes".

Here is MMTer  Bill Still, who is seeking to become the Libertarian Party presidential nominee:
A sovereign nation does not have to borrow, in fact, being debt-free is the very definition of sovereignty. Pay off the existing bonds -- which is our National Debt -- as they come due, but pay them off with debt free U.S. Notes (or their electronic equivalents) instead of Federal Reserve Notes, which are all borrowed into existence.
Here is MMTer Cullen Roche on fiat money:
Money is always created by the state and must therefore be regulated by the state; however, ultimately the private sector must accept this legal tender as the currency unit. Therefore, the private and public sectors should best be thought of as being in partnership with one another and not opposing forces.
Thus, when Carney tries to give the impression that MMTers and Austrians have a lot in common, he is just wrong. Austrians reject the idea that a fiat money of any sort is necessary in a highly industrialized economy (and any other type economy). A gold coin standard could function much better in the eyes of Austrians. A government couldn't inflate a gold standard at will, further the Austrians see no need to ever inflate a currency, unlike MMTers.

Here's Roche again:
The economy is a complex dynamical system with irrational participants. It cannot be expected to regulate itself or behave rationally at all times. Therefore, some level of government intervention and involvement is not only beneficial, but necessary
An Austrian simply doesn't see the world this way, where "irrational participants" occur on such a scale that they must be counteracted by government. An Austrian would first ask, if there are so many "irrational participants" who is to say they aren't in government also? Remember, before the real estate crisis, it was Fed chairman Bernnake who said there was no problem with the real estate market.

Secondly, Austrians would argue that the "cluster of errors"s made because of fiat currency creation are what cause the boom-bust cycle and that without fiat money creation no such "cluster of errors" would occur. Thus, the Austrian position here is diametrically opposed to the MMT view that there are times when monetary inflation is called for.

Carney writes:
The MMTers think the financial system tends toward crisis. Wenzel writes that the financial system doesn’t tend toward crisis. But a moment later he admits that the actual financial system we have does tend toward crisis. All Austrians believe this, as far as I can tell.

What has happened here is that Wenzel is now the one confusing the world as it is with the world as he wishes it would be. Perhaps under some version of the Austrian-optimum financial system—no central bank, gold coin as money, free banking or no fractional reserve banking—we wouldn’t tend toward crisis. But that is not the system we have.

The MMTers aren’t engaged with arguing about the Austrian-optimum financial system. They are engaged in describing the actual financial system we have—which tends toward crisis.

They even agree that the tendency toward crisis is largely caused by the same thing, credit expansions leading to irresponsible lending.
If I say that automobiles don't tend to drive off cliffs, but if I am looking at a baby that is behind the driving wheel of a car that is about to go off a cliff and I say, "Hey, that car is about to go off a cliff." It doesn't in anyway mean that I am saying all cars will go off cliffs.

In the same way, the financial system, like a car, does not have a tendency to drive off a cliff. If the Fed prints money it may go off a cliff, just as a car may go off a cliff when driven by a baby. My solution for the cars being driven by babies is to stop the babies from driving cars, for the economy, it is to stop the Fed from driving the economy. To say that I should just deal with the reality of a baby driving a car and hop in the back seat, makes no sense. Anymore than it makes sense, when arguing monetary policy, to say hey just deal with the Fed's inflationary boom-bust ways.

Carney then writes:
The MMTers say that “capitalist economies are not self-regulating.” Again, Wenzel dissents. But if we read “capitalist economies” as “modern economies with central banking and interventionist governments” then the point of disagreement vanishes.
John, puhleeze. Of course, if you define capitalism to mean, well, the exact opposite of capitalism "the point of disagreement vanishes."

Carney writes:
Wenzel’s challenge to the idea of functional finance is untenable—and not particularly Austrian. He argues that the subjectivity of value means it is impossible for us to tell whether something is “good for the economy.” Humbug.
I should first note that I specifically state that I am referencing how "fiscal policy should be measured" Indeed, I further write:
Thus, it is extremely dangerous to go around talking about what is "good for the economy", especially when you are talking fiscal policy.
Far from this being "not particularly Austrian", it is at the heart of the Austrian view that subjective value can not be measured in the pubic sector ( as opposed to the private sector where exchange tales place voluntarily between two individuals). Indeed, the Austrian economist Murray Rothbard, even suggested that ALL government spending is a negative that should be subtracted from GDP:.
..most of the resources consumed by the maw of government have not even been seen, much less used, by the consumers, who were at least allowed to ride in their buggies. In the private sector, a firm's productivity is gauged by how much the consumers voluntarily spend on its product. But in the public sector, the government's "productivity" is measured—mirabile dictum—by how much it spends! Early in their construction of national product statistics, the statisticians were confronted with the fact that the government, unique among individuals and firms, could not have its activities gauged by the voluntary payments of the public—because there were little or none of such payments. Assuming, without any proof, that government must be as productive as anything else, they then settled upon its expenditures as a gauge of its productivity. In this way, not only are government expenditures just as useful as private, but all the government need to do in order to increase its "productivity" is to add a large chunk to its bureaucracy. Hire more bureaucrats, and see the productivity of the public sector rise! Here, indeed, is an easy and happy form of social magic for our bemused citizens.

The truth is exactly the reverse of the common assumptions. Far from adding cozily to the private sector, the public sector can only feed off the private sector; it necessarily lives parasitically upon the private economy. But this means that the productive resources of society—far from satisfying the wants of consumers—are now directed, by compulsion, away from these wants and needs. The consumers are deliberately thwarted, and the resources of the economy diverted from them to those activities desired by the parasitic bureaucracy and politicians. In many cases, the private consumers obtain nothing at all, except perhaps propaganda beamed to them at their own expense. In other cases, the consumers receive something far down on their list of priorities—like the buggies of our example. In either case, it becomes evident that the "public sector" is actually antiproductive: that it subtracts from, rather than adds to, the private sector of the economy. For the public sector lives by continuous attack on the very criterion that is used to gauge productivity: the voluntary purchases of consumers.

We may gauge the fiscal impact of government on the private sector by subtracting government expenditures from the national product. For government payments to its own bureaucracy are hardly additions to production; and government absorption of economic resources takes them out of the productive sphere. This gauge, of course, is only fiscal; it does not begin to measure the anti-productive impact of various government regulations, which cripple production and exchange in other ways than absorbing resources. It also does not dispose of numerous other fallacies of the national product statistics.
Carney may, or may not, agree with this view, but he must agree that it is distinctly Austrian and not in line with MMT thinking.

Carney concludes by stating:
At the level of theory, Austrians and MMTers have a lot in common. Tactically, an alliance makes sense.
I just don't see where the Austrians and MMTers have much in common at all. And, a tactical alliance with a group that is in favor of creating a new fiat money, to replace the current fiat money, seems to be of little value to Austrians. More than anything, there is great educational value in pointing out the important differences between MMTers and Austrians.

Putin Disses Protesters; Says They are Seeking 'Brownian Motion'

Vladimir Putin has turned to deep physics to diss Russian protesters. The Christian Science Monitor explains:
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, during comments before his supporters on Tuesday, said protesters against his 12-year reign were seeking "Brownian motion." What was he talking about?

Mr. Putin was referring to a physics phenomenon first described by Scottish scientist Robert Brown in his 1827 paper "A brief account of microscopical observations made on the particles contained in the pollen of plants."

While observing pollen grains suspended in water, Mr. Brown found that the grains jiggled and bounced within the fluid in what he called "rapid oscillatory motion." He could not see any cause of their motion – they didn't appear to impact any other particles, and he ruled out currents within the water – but he was able [sic] use other substances to consistently replicate the phenomenon, which he dubbed "Brownian motion."

It wasn't until 1905 that the phenomenon was explained, by none other than Albert Einstein. The grains weren't jerking randomly in the water, he wrote, but rather were colliding with much smaller water molecules. As the molecules hit the grains, the grains would change direction, but since the water molecules were invisible, it would appear that the grains were jittering without cause. Einstein's discovery was seen as proof of the atomic theory of matter: that all matter is made of tiny particles, or atoms.

Carlyle Group To Get a Man on the Federal Reserve Board

It's all about insiders when it comes to the Federal Reserve.

A White House statement says President Obama will nominate two former U.S. Treasury Department officials for the Federal Reserve Board.

Obama's picks are Jerome Powell, an attorney who was a Treasury undersecretary for former President George H.W. Bush, and Jeremy Stein, a Harvard University economist who has advised the current administration.

David Rubinstein is popping champagne. Powell from 1997 through 2005, was a partner at The Carlyle Group, where he founded and led the Industrial Group within the U.S. Buyout Fund.

In addition to Carlyle, in the years since leaving the Treasury Powell worked at Bankers Trust Co.; the Global Environment Fund, a private-equity firm; and his own investment company. In other words a complete Wall Street-DC Corridor insider.

Stein is currently a professor at Harvard. From February to July 2009, Stein worked in the Obama administration as a senior adviser to Treasury Secretary and as a staff member of the National Economic Council.

According to the Crimson, Stein first joined Harvard as an assistant professor of finance at Harvard Business School from 1987 to 1990. From 1990 to 2000, he was a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, first as an associate professor of finance and eventually as the J.C. Penney Professor of Management.

Stein graduated summa cum laude from Princeton in 1983 with a bachelor’s in economics, earning his Ph.D. from MIT in 1986. Thus, another MIT econ PhD joins the hierarchy of the Fed. This will be the fifth.

The nominees must still be confirmed by the Senate.

The salary of Fed chairman Ben Bernanke is $199,700. The annual salary of the other Board members is $179,700.

Another Blow to Krugman: Consumer Confidence at 8 Month High

The Conference Board reports that its Consumer Confidence Index rose almost 10 points to 64.5, up from a revised 55.2 in November.

The surge builds on another big increase in November, when the index rose almost 15 points from the month before.

Krugman-like Keynesian analysts were scorched again. They had expected the index would come in at 59.

Consumer confidence isn't my favorite indicator because it will be slow in detecting tops in the business cycle. But strong confidence at the beginning of an upturn in the Fed created boom-bust cycle suggests that individuals will be lowering their desire to hold cash balances, which points to accelerating price inflation.

Thus this is a double-whammy to NYT Keynesian economist Paul Krugman, who only weeks ago said we remain under depression coniditions and who believes that inflation is under control.

Ron Paul: The NDAA Codifies Obama’s Power Grab

The power grab codified within the NDAA is simply shocking. This is not the America of the founders of this country.

China Bans Gold Exchanges

Here's another indication that the price inflation in China is much greater than the official reports of around 4.0%.

Gold exchanges in China outside of two in Shanghai have been banned, according to a statement from the the People's Bank of China, the Ministry of Public Security and other regulators. This is a clear sign of panic among government officials. Chinese people were protecting themselves against the inflation by buying gold.

Until this order, gold exchanges operated throughout China.

"No local authority, institution or individual is allowed to set up gold exchanges," said the notice dated December 20.

The statement also said that the Shanghai Gold Exchange and the Shanghai Futures Exchange are enough to meet domestic investor demand for spot gold and futures trading.

The PBOC said it would lead a team to insure that gold exchanges will be closed, banks will stop providing clearing services to them; and some people will be put under police investigation for possible irregularities at exchanges.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Montanans Launch Recall of Senators Who Approved NDAA Military Detention

On Christmas Day the US Senate voted 86 - 14 to pass the National Defense Authorization Act of 2011 which allows for the indefinite military detention of American citizens without charge or trial. Now, Montanans have announced the launch of recall campaigns against Senators Max Baucus and Jonathan Tester, who voted for the bill, reports

Montana is one of nine states with provisions that say that the right of recall extends to recalling members of its federal congressional delegation, pursuant to Montana Code 2-16-603, on the grounds of physical or mental lack of fitness, incompetence, violation of oath of office, official misconduct, or conviction of certain felony offenses, according to SNC.

Montana law requires grounds for recall to be stated which show conformity to the allowed grounds for recall. The draft language of the Montana petitions, "reason for recall" reads:
The Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees all U.S citizens:

"a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed..."

The National Defense Authorization Act of 2011 (NDAA 2011) permanently abolishes the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial, "for the duration of hostilities" in the War on Terror, which was defined by President George W. Bush as "task which does not end" to a joint session of Congress on September 20, 2001.

Those who voted Aye on December 15th, 2011, Bill of Rights Day, for NDAA 2011 have attempted to grant powers which cannot be granted, which violate both the spirit and the letter of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

The Montana Recall Act stipulates that officials including US senators can only be recalled for physical or mental lack of fitness, incompetence, violation of the oath of office, official misconduct, or conviction of a felony offense. We the undersigned call for a recall election to be held for Senator Max S. Baucus [and Senator Jonathan Tester] and charge that he has violated his oath of office, to protect and defend the United States Constitution.
Montana residents William Crain and Stewart Rhodes are spearheading the drive, according to SNC. Mr. Crain is an artist. Mr. Rhodes is an attorney, Yale Law School graduate, and the national president of the organization Oath Keepers, who are military and law enforcement officers, both former and active duty, who vow to uphold their Oath to the US Constitution and to disobey illegal orders which constitute attacks on their fellow citizens.