Author Archives: MN Gordon

     

 

 

Style Over Substance

“May you live in interesting times,” says the ancient Chinese curse.  No doubt about it, we live in interesting times.  Hardly a day goes by that we’re not aghast and astounded by a series of grotesque caricatures of the world as at devolves towards vulgarity. Just this week, for instance, U.S. Representative Maxine Waters tweeted, “Get ready for impeachment.”

 

Well, Maxine Waters is obviously right – impeaching the president is an urgent task of the utmost importance. As everybody knows, he is best friends with Vladimir Putin, the shirtless barbarian who rules the Evil Russian Empire (they were seen drinking kompromat together in Moscow, a vile Russian liquor that reportedly tastes a bit like urine. Senator McCain has the details on that story). And as Maxine Waters has just disclosed, Putin’s armies are recently advancing into Korea! We cannot let this stand, or he’ll invade Kekistan next (note that he already controls Limpopo and Gabon). Who knows where it will end?

 

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Onward vs. Upward

Something both unwanted and unexpected has tormented western economies in the 21st century.  Gross domestic product (GDP) has moderated onward while government debt has spiked upward.  Orthodox economists continue to be flummoxed by what has transpired.

 

What happened to the miracle? The Keynesian wet dream of an unfettered fiat debt money system has been realized, and debt has been duly expanded at every opportunity.  Although the fat lady has so far only cleared her throat (if quite audibly, in 2008) and hasn’t really sung yet, it is already clear that calling this system careening toward a catastrophic failure.

 

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Greeted by Rooster

There’s an endearing quality to a steadfast rooster call at the crack of dawn when overheard from a warm country farmhouse.  There’s a reassuring charm that comes with the committed gallinaceous greeting of daybreak that’s particularly suited to a rural ambiance.  The allure of a morning cock-a-doodle-doo somehow falls flat in all other settings.

 

Good morning everyone! Before meteorological forecasts were available on TV and smart phones, people had to rely on the wisdom of rugged outdoorsmen to get their weather-related updates. In this context we would like to let you in on this valuable old piece of Mexican country lore: When from the compose pile you hear the rooster declaim, the weather will change – or it will stay the same”. OK, we actually made that up, but you cannot deny its elevated wisdom coefficient [PT].

Illustration via wakeup-world.com

 

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Promises of Slop

 

“We have assembled a best-in-class team of policy advisors to drive President Trump’s bold plan for job creation and economic growth.”

– Gary Cohn, Chief Economic Advisor to President Trump

 

The art and science of spending other people’s money is not an occupation suited to just anyone.  Rather, it’s a skill reserved for the professional world-improver.  To be successful, one must act with a zealous devotion to uplifting the down and out, no matter the cost.

 

Donald Trump’s chief economic advisor Gary Cohn – as some observers have noted, he represents one of the factions in the wider circle of economic advisors (there are many advisors who are not members of an official body such as the Council of Economic Advisors, but reportedly have the president’s ear). This is considered problematic, or rather confusing, on the grounds that in some cases the views of these advisors appear to be diametrically opposed. The question is whose views will eventually prevail.

Photo credit: Kena Betancur / AFP / APA

 

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The Worst Job in the World

The rewards of being the President, these days, are few and far between.  Just ask President Trump.  The work hours are terrible, the pay is far less than that of a corporate CEO, and you’re endlessly surrounded by shabby politicians.  What’s more, the  hand towels  aboard Air Force One have the shoddy over washed roughness of those at a turnpike Motel 6.  But that’s not the worst of it.

 

While we’re at it, let us introduce you to the runner-up, i.e., the second-worst job in the world. We are not sure what job title this poor man actually has (elephant rectum administrator? Pachyderm intestinal inspection officer?), but we sure hope he’s at least getting paid well.

Photo via Top Media Trends

 

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Definitely Maybe

Everyone’s got a plan for sale these days.  In fact, there are so many plans out there we cannot keep up with them all.  Eat celery sticks and lose weight.  Think and grow rich.  Stocks for the long run.  Naturally, plans like these run a dime a dozen.

 

All social engineers who get to impose their harebrained schemes on the rest of the world through the coercive powers of the State, as well as all armchair planners regaling us with their allegedly “better plans”, should have this highly perceptive quote by Robert Burns tattooed on their foreheads. In case you’re wondering, “gang aft a-gley” is slightly old English for “usually turn out to be total crap”. The second part that points out that as a rule, we get nothing but grief and pain instead of promised joy, is applicable to interventionism in general; the so-called “unintended consequences” of interventions almost always turn out to be their main feature and defining characteristic.

 

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Thirty Year Retread

What will President Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe talk about when they meet later today? Will they gab about what fishing holes the big belly bass are biting at? Will they share insider secrets on what watering holes are serving up the stiffest drinks? [ed. note: when we edited this article for Acting Man, the meeting was already underway]

 

Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe, a dyed-in-the-wool Keynesian and militarist, meets America’s new CiC in the somewhat ostentatiously appointed Trump Tower. They look happy.

Photo credit: Reuters

 

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Alien Economics

There was, indeed, a time when clear thinking and lucid communication via the written word were held in high regard. As far as we can tell, this wonderful epoch concluded in 1936. Everything since has been tortured with varying degrees of gobbledygook.

 

One should probably not be overly surprised that the abominable statist rag Time Magazine is fulsomely praising Keynes’ nigh unreadable tome. We too suspect that this book has actually lowered the planet-wide IQ – in fact, similar to Marx’ Das Kapital, it has done permanent damage. We have to admit that we have read it ourselves (and what a slog it was!) – contrary to Keynes himself, who once published a scathing critique of Mises’ Theory of Money and Credit without reading even one word of it, we prefer to actually read what those we criticize have published. In the first German edition of the book, Keynes freely admitted that his policy recommendations were probably more useful for a totalitarian State than a free society (i.e., it would be easier to implement them, because of their coercive nature). The biggest problem is though that most of the book is a rehash of hoary inflationist ideas that were already long refuted by the time of its publication. The handful of original ideas Keynes contributed didn’t constitute good economic theory either. Moreover, the book is riddled with contradictions and is an extremely tedious read to boot. At best we can recommend it as symptomatic treatment for insomnia. However, it did provide the State with a pseudo-scientific fig leaf for central planning and interventionism, which in turn provides thousands of mediocre economists with an income. This is the reason why it was and continues to be praised to the rafters by assorted etatistes. It is at this point that we are often reminded by people (who usually haven’t read it) that “not all the ideas in the book are bad”. Well, you don’t have to take our word for it. If you don’t want to go through the painful effort of reading it, you might want to look at Henry Hazlitt’s detailed critique instead, which is available for free here: The Failure of the “New” Economics (pdf). It is the only way to have fun reading Keynes’ book. Hazlitt is taking it apart mercilessly with impeccable logic. In addition, he provides the reader with a few enlightening excursions, such as e.g. a disquisition on mathematical economics that is one of the best take-downs of this barren, physics envy-driven, pseudo-intellectual wanking we have ever seen.

 

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Rekindling the Dollar Debasement Strategy

The U.S. dollar, as measured by the dollar index, has generally gone up since mid-2014. The dollar index goes up when the U.S. dollar gains strength (value) against a basket of currencies, including the euro, yen, pound, and several others. Conversely, the dollar index goes down when the U.S. dollar loses value.

 

The US dollar has been quite strong since retesting its previous lows in 2011 (note that it has been even stronger against many currencies not included in DXY). Politicians and central bankers never seem to be content with a strong currency. This is quite bizarre, as a strong currency greatly benefits consumers, i.e., everyone. Politicians seem to believe it is better to create currency-related benefits for what is really only a small sector of the economy – which proves how deeply ingrained mercantilist fallacies are. Ironically, even these beneficiaries only ever see a temporary bump in their income and as a rule tend to suffer great harm in the long term. Just ponder US car companies in this context. Over many decades, no other sector has been whining more persistently about the allegedly unfair weakening of the yen by Japan’s government. The reality is this: in 1965, the yen stood at nearly 360 to the dollar. 30 years later, it had risen to 80, a gain of 350% – or putting it differently, the dollar declined by 78% against the yen in three decades. Have US car companies conquered the world as a result? Have Japan’s car makers lost market share in the US or elsewhere? The exact opposite has in fact happened (two of the US “big three” even went bankrupt and had to be bailed out). Ultimately, the magic elixir of currency debasement achieves none of the results promised by its promoters – click to enlarge.

 

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Pledges for Trump

 

You boys know what makes this bird go up?  Funding makes this bird go up.  That’s right.  No bucks, no Buck Rogers.

– Gordon Cooper and Gus Grissom, The Right Stuff (film)

 

Things are looking up for the United States economy in 2017.  You can just feel it.  Something great is about to happen.

 

Sam Sheppard in “The Right Stuff” –  a 1983 docudrama about the Mercury 7 program and “the seats-of-the-pants approach of the people involved in the space program” (according to IMDB).

Photo credit: Ladd Company

 

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Rags to Riches

Jack Ma is an amiable fellow.  Back in 1994, while visiting the United States he decided to give that newfangled internet thing a whirl.  At a moment of peak inspiration, he executed his first search engine request by typing in the word beer.

 

Jack Ma, founder and CEO of Alibaba, China’s largest e-commerce firm. Once he was a school teacher, but it turned out that he had enormous entrepreneurial talent and that the world of wheelers, dealers, movers and shakers was more his speed. Today he is one of the world’s small number of genuine self-made multi-billionaires.

Photo credit: DFIC

 

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Nowhere City California

There are places in Southern California where, although the sun always shines, they haven’t seen a ray of light for over 50-years.  There’s a no man’s land of urban blight along Interstate 10, from East Los Angeles through the San Gabriel Valley, where cities you’ve never heard of and would never go to, are jumbled together like shipping containers on Terminal Island.  El Monte, California, is one of those places.

 

Advice dispensed on Interstate 10. We agree with it. Better don’t.

Photo credit: Rob Hann

 

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