Will the Swiss Guarantee CHF 75,000 for Every Family?
In early June the Swiss will be called upon to make a historic decision. Switzerland is the first country worldwide to put the idea of an Unconditional Basic Income to a vote and the outcome of this referendum will set a strong precedent and establish a landmark in the evolution of this debate.
The Swiss Basic Income Initiative in a demonstration in front of parliament. As we have previously reported (see “Swiss Parliament Shoots Down Socialist Utopia” for details), Switzerland’s parliament has already rejected the idea, with even the socialists voting against it (proving that they are still in possession of most of their marbles and quite likely in possession of an abacus as well).
Black-and-Blue Crash Alert Flag
Let us begin the week “on message.” The Diary is about money. Today, we’ll stick to the subject. Old friend Mark Hulbert has done some research on the likelihood of a crash in the stock market.
Ye olde tattered Crash Alert flag… should it be unfurled again?
Image by fmh
Trapped in the EU
Austria is a small European nation that has made the grievous mistake of needlessly joining the EU in 1995, together with Finland and Sweden. Austria’s neighbor Switzerland, which is of roughly similar size and likewise militarily neutral, proved to have far better instincts. The Swedes subsequently at least had the good sense to stay out of the euro zone. It seems if there is a mistake to be made, Austrian governments will eagerly make it.
Austria’s former foreign minister Alois Mock grins happily as an EU minion shows him where to make his cross in order to sign away his government’s sovereignty. This may have seemed a good idea at the time, but it has turned out to be an extremely dubious bargain in retrospect. Looking on is former chancellor and banker Franz Vranitzky, who judging from his body language seemed a trifle less sure about the whole thing.
Photo credit: Georges Schneider / APA
Scratching the Surface
Problems, as people commonly perceive them, require solutions. Broken shoelaces must get fixed. Regrettably, in today’s democracy this means the candidate who offers the most fixes – in the form of goodies – to the most people wins the election.
Three gentlemen who need a solution real fast. “Did you bring the book?” “No, I thought you had it…”
Image credit: CreateSpace
Expanding in Ireland
DUNMORE EAST, Ireland – We came down the coast from Dublin to check on our new office building. For this visit, we wanted to stay somewhere different than we normally do. So we chose a small hotel on the coast, called the Strand Inn.
Irish landscape with alien landing pads. Even the guys from Rigel II have heard about Ireland’s corporate tax rate.
Photo credit: Tourism Ireland
Policy-Induced Contrition in Japan
As we keep saying, there really is no point in trying to make people richer by making them poorer – which is what Shinzo Abe and Haruhiko Kuroda have been trying to do for the past several years. Not surprisingly, they have so to speak only succeeded in achieving the second part of the equation: they have certainly managed to impoverish their fellow Japanese citizens.
Photo credit: Toru Hanai / Reuters
Smart Money Fleeing Stocks
DUBLIN – The Dow dropped 180 points on Tuesday – or about 1%. And another clever billionaire says he is looking elsewhere for profits. Reuters:
“Activist investor Carl Icahn on Monday said there was a chance the stock market could suffer a big decline, saying valuations are rich and earnings at many companies are fueled more by low borrowing costs than management’s efforts to boost results.
“I am very cautious on equities today. This market could easily have a big drop,” Icahn said.”
Famous activist investor Carl Icahn – in fact, we like to think of him as the “original activist”; we still remember when he had his way with the likes of TWA and Texaco back in the 1980s. Evidently, tempus fugit. Does he know something we don’t? It certainly seems possible. After all, contrary to us, he has made billions. According to his latest filings, he currently holds a huge net short position of 150%.
Photo credit: Platon for Time
Our editor recently stumbled upon an image in one of the more obscure corners of the intertubes which we felt we had to share with our readers. It provides us with a nice metaphor for the meaningfulness of government activity. First, here is a look at the picture – just quietly contemplate it for while and let it work its magic on you:
Yes, these two gentlemen are actually watering a tree in the middle of a downpour…
Photo via president.gov.by
DUBLIN – The smart money is getting out while the gettin’ is still good. That’s the message we get from reading the recent headlines.
Here’s the Financial Times:
Redemptions from stock funds have hit nearly $90 billion this year as portfolio managers and hedge funds struggle to navigate a market that no longer seems driven by radical central bank policy.
Boisterous Debate vs. Non-Existence
Readers may recall that we have previously reported on brawls breaking out in various parliaments, such as e.g. in Ukraine’s Rada, where we suspect representatives are actually engaging in a form of performance art. Here is the picture again, that shows what perfectly composed imagery is produced in the Rada. Obviously, true professionals are at work there:
Perfect composition: Ukraine’s parliamentary brawlers are true artists.
Image source: firstmemes.com
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