When Bakers Go Fishing

Government intervention into a nation’s economy is as foolish as attempting to control the sun’s rise and fall by law or force.  But that doesn’t mean governments don’t meddle each and every day with the best – and worst – of intentions.  The United States government is no exception.

 

From the “When the government helps the economy” collection: Breaking a few eggs while baking the bridge to nowhere omelet. [PT]

 

Over the years, layers and layers of interference by various federal, state, and local agencies have built up like grime on a kitchen window.  The grease shines and smells of something fierce.  The layers of government grime also drip and ooze into every crack and crevice of the economy.

These days, for example, it is impossible to carry out a simple private transaction with your barber or barista without some form of government interference.  Has your barber obtained the required license and paid the obligatory fees to be able to legally taper your neck line?  Has your barista’s espresso bean grinder passed city health inspection?

Is the hot Cup of Joe served in a paper cup of appropriate recycled material composition?  Did the hot beverage exceed the legally accepted temperature standard?  Did state and local governments receive their tax exaction upon payment?

 

The licensing racket – left panel: the basic definition of the racket; middle panel: how long it takes and what it costs to obtain licenses for assorted jobs in the US; right panel: the inexorable growth of rules and regulations. One shouldn’t be surprised that the pace of real economic growth has steadily declined since peaking in the late 19th century (or if one wants to focus on the modern era, since it peaked not too long after WW2). From money supply inflation to regulatory inflation, Leviathan has undermined the economy at every turn by inflating all the stuff we definitely don’t need more of. The pretense is that this is needed to “protect” us (for instance, last year the police courageously protected the citizens of Georgia from the dangers of an unlicensed lemonade stand by arresting its 14-year old female proprietor). Let us be clear: No-one will be allowed to terrorize the community by running an unlicensed lemonade stand or engaging in the high crimes of dispensing unlicensed manicures and haircuts. [PT] – click to enlarge.

 

When it comes to more complicated matters, where real money’s on the line, government interference is an absolute disgrace.  Did you know that it costs 10 times more to have an appendectomy in the United States than in Mexico?  Is the procedure 10 times better?

Obviously, this is nothing new.  Governments have been regulating and impressing their fingerprints all over commerce since society first granted its leaders the opportunity.  People are so accustomed to it that they accept government intervention as necessary to better their lives.

When it comes to price fixing, wage controls, and dictating oil production, things quickly go haywire.  This is because prices, wages, and resources have their own independent relationships beyond what can be legislated.

When the price of a certain good or commodity is artificially fixed below its natural equilibrium, scarcity and shortages follow.  In short, when the price of bread is decreed below the cost of the wheat that goes into it, bakers go fishing.

 

The scourge of occupational licensing [PT]

 

Credit Market Intervention

Perhaps the most nefarious of all government intervention, is that which directly affects a nation’s money stock.  Many people don’t recognize its occurrence.  But they do misdiagnose its effects.

Wage stagnation, for instance, is often blamed on greedy executives off-shoring their production.  In reality, this is merely a consequence of a forced monetary regime that inhibits genuine capital formation and earned savings in favor of asset price inflation. Of course, only a complete killjoy would bother scratching below the surface to uncover such minutiae.

Without question, the last decade has brought forth some of the craziest monetary policy experiments in human history.  If you recall, the Federal Reserve dropped the federal funds rate to near zero in December 2008, and kept it there until December 2015 – exactly seven years.

Since then, the Fed has hiked the federal funds rate four times – 0.25 percent each time – bringing the federal funds rate up to 1.25 percent. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meets on December 12 and 13, and will likely raise the federal funds rate another 0.25 percent.

It is also anticipated that the Fed will raise rates three times in 2018, assuming financial markets and the economy don’t break down before they can accomplish this.

 

Broad true money supply TMS-2 and the federal funds rate – a mountain of money was created, and it is an apodictic certainty that is has not made us one iota more prosperous – quite the contrary. [PT] – click to enlarge.

 

Concurrent with the Fed’s interest rate raising efforts, they’ve also begun to reduce their balance sheet.  They’re selling some of the roughly $3.6 trillion in Treasury and mortgage-backed securities purchased as part of their Quantitative Easing program. This reversal of the Federal Reserve’s Quantitative Easing program reduces the pool of available credit in the financial system.

It doesn’t take much imagination to visualize the effect this will have on an economy and financial markets that are wholly addicted to cheap and abundant credit.  So where does the GOP’s tax bill fall within this landscape?

 

The Zealous Pursuit of State-Sponsored Collapse

Here we turn to David Stockman, former Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Reagan.  Stockman’s more than four decades of in-the-trenches experience, study, and contemplation of taxes, budgets, and deficits, and how these all influence and affect the economy, is unrivaled. As he explains:

 

“All tax cuts are not created equal.  Their impact for good or ill depends on: (1) which taxes are cut; (2) how the revenue loss is financed; (3) when they occur in the business cycle; and (4) how they impact that nation’s underlying fiscal posture.

“Our point today is that the GOP gets an “F” on all four components of the test.  That’s because a deficit-financed tax cut is never a good idea, but is especially counter-productive if done late in the business cycle in the face of a structural deficit that is high and rising (owing to inexorable demographic pressures on entitlement spending); and in the teeth of an unprecedented cycle of monetary contraction, which is exactly what the Fed’s interest rate normalization and balance sheet shrinkage (QT or quantitative tightening) amounts to.”

 

David Stockman, former budget director in the Reagan administration – which he quit when it ignored his admonishments on its massive spending. [PT]

Photo: Still from NewsHour Footage

 

To clarify, if you’ve been out of school for a while, “F” stands for fail.  Most notably, financing tax cuts with money borrowed from the future is doomed to fail.  Hence, the great GOP tax cuts represent but another fail milestone in the zealous pursuit of state-sponsored collapse.

 

As an aside, since last week, when we declared buying bitcoin above $11,000 to be an action for idiots, bitcoin has spiked up above $19,000.  That represents more than a 70 percent increase in just one week.  Nonetheless, we stand behind our claim.  We also stand behind our claim that sometimes idiots get rich – click to enlarge.

 

We should point out that the spike to $19,000+ in BTC was confined to the Coinbase exchange, where a huge premium developed during the trading day. It was not replicated at any of the other exchanges, where BTC peaked just below $16,000. This is mainly a sign of inefficiencies at said exchange (BTC routinely trades at a premium there, but it is usually much smaller). It took a while for arbitrageurs to bring the premium back down, but they succeeded eventually. [PT]

 

Charts by George Mason University, Washington University, St. Louis Fed, Bloomberg

 

Chart and image captions by PT

 

MN Gordon is President and Founder of Direct Expressions LLC, an independent publishing company. He is the Editorial Director and Publisher of the Economic Prism – an E-Newsletter that tries to bring clarity to the muddy waters of economic policy and discusses interesting investment opportunities.

 

 

 

Emigrate While You Can... Learn More

 


 

 
 

Dear Readers!

You may have noticed that our so-called “semiannual” funding drive, which started sometime in the summer if memory serves, has seamlessly segued into the winter. In fact, the year is almost over! We assure you this is not merely evidence of our chutzpa; rather, it is indicative of the fact that ad income still needs to be supplemented in order to support upkeep of the site. Naturally, the traditional benefits that can be spontaneously triggered by donations to this site remain operative regardless of the season - ranging from a boost to general well-being/happiness (inter alia featuring improved sleep & appetite), children including you in their songs, up to the likely allotment of privileges in the afterlife, etc., etc., but the Christmas season is probably an especially propitious time to cross our palms with silver. A special thank you to all readers who have already chipped in, your generosity is greatly appreciated. Regardless of that, we are honored by everybody's readership and hope we have managed to add a little value to your life.

   

Bitcoin address: 12vB2LeWQNjWh59tyfWw23ySqJ9kTfJifA

   
 

3 Responses to “The Zealous Pursuit of State-Sponsored Collapse”

  • jks:

    “…As an aside, since last week, when we declared buying bitcoin above $11,000 to be an action for idiots, bitcoin has spiked up above $19,000. That represents more than a 70 percent increase in just one week. Nonetheless, we stand behind our claim. We also stand behind our claim that sometimes idiots get rich…”

    Sounds like resentment talking to me. :)

    • M.N. Gordon:

      Baffled, befuddled, bemused, flummoxed? Yes.

      Resentment? No.

      You can check out the article for context here: http://www.acting-man.com/?p=51902

      Whether someone’s attained wealth and riches by hard work, ingenuity, pumping porta potties, marrying up, or by plain dumb luck, we applaud them. In fact, barring force or fraud, we don’t care how someone’s accumulated their wealth.

      What we’re after is the spectacle and the spectacular. And without question, cryptocurrencies are putting on quite a show!

  • arne.wolframm@gmail.com:

    Bitcoin spiked to 22990 USD on Bithumb in S Korea.

    https://cryptowat.ch/bithumb/btckrw/3d

    I guess MNG joined Weiner’s unreflected Bitcoin hate group.

Your comment:

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Most read in the last 20 days:

  • Trade War Game On!
      Interesting Times Arrive “Things sure are getting exciting again, ain’t they?”  The remark was made by a colleague on Tuesday morning, as we stepped off the elevator to grab a cup of coffee.   Ancient Chinese curse alert... [PT]   “One moment markets are gorging on financial slop like fat pigs in mud.  The next they’re collectively vomiting on themselves. I’ll tell you one thing.  President Trump’s trade war with China won’t end well.  I mean, come...
  • The Dollar Cancer and the Gold Cure
      The Long Run is Here The dollar is failing. Millions of people can see at least some of the major signs, such as the collapse of interest rates, record high number of people not counted in the workforce, and debt rising from already-unpayable levels at an accelerating rate.   Total US credit market debt has hit a new high of $68.6 trillion at the end of 2017. That's up from $22.3 trillion a mere 20 years ago. It's a fairly good bet this isn't sustainable....
  • From Fake Boom to Real Bust
      Paradise in LA LA Land More is revealed with each passing day.  You can count on it.  But what exactly the ‘more is of’ requires careful discrimination.  Is the ‘more’ merely more noise?  Or is it something of actual substance?  Today we endeavor to pass judgment, on your behalf.   Normally, judgment would be passed on a Thursday, but we are making an exception. [PT]   For example, here in the land of fruits and nuts, things are whacky, things are...
  • Getting High on Bubbles
      Turn on, Tune in, Drop out Back in the drug-soaked, if not halcyon, days known at the sexual and drug revolution—the 1960’s—many people were on a quest for the “perfect trip”, and the “perfect hit of acid” (the drug lysergic acid diethylamide, LSD).   Dr. Albert Hoffman and his famous bicycle ride through Basel after he ingested a few drops of LSD-25 by mistake. The photograph in the middle was taken at the Woodstock festival and inter alia serves as a...
  • Rise of the Japanese Androids
      Good Intentions One of the unspoken delights in life is the rich satisfaction that comes with bearing witness to the spectacular failure of an offensive and unjust system. This week served up a lavish plate of delicious appetizers with both a style and refinement that’s ordinarily reserved for a competitive speed eating contest. What a remarkable time to be alive.   It seemed a good idea at first... [PT]   Many thrilling stories of doom and gloom were published...
  • US Stock Market: Happy Days Are Here Again? Not so Fast...
      A “Typical” Correction? A Narrative Fail May Be in Store Obviously, assorted crash analogs have by now gone out of the window – we already noted that the market was late if it was to continue to mimic them, as the decline would have had to accelerate in the last week of March to remain in compliance with the “official time table”. Of course crashes are always very low probability events – but there are occasions when they have a higher probability than otherwise, and we will...
  • Claudio Grass on Cryptocurrencies and Gold – An X22 Report Interview
       The Global Community is Unhappy With the Monetary System, Change is Coming Our friend Claudio Grass of Precious Metal Advisory Switzerland was recently interviewed by the X22 Report on cryptocurrencies and gold. He offers interesting perspectives on cryptocurrencies, bringing them into context with Hayek's idea of the denationalization of money. The connection is that they have originated in the market and exist in a framework of free competition, with users determining which of them...
  • No Revolution Just Yet - Precious Metals Supply and Demand Report
      Irredeemably Yours... Yuan Stops Rallying at the Wrong Moment The so-called petro-yuan was to revolutionize the world of irredeemable fiat paper currencies. Well, since its launch on March 26 — it has gone down. It was to be an enabler for oil companies who were desperate to sell oil for gold, but could not do so until the yuan oil contract.   After becoming progressively stronger over the past year, it looks as thought the 6.25 level in USDCNY is providing support for the...
  • The “Turn of the Month Effect” Exists in 11 of 11 Countries
      A Well Known Seasonal Phenomenon in the US Market – Is There More to It? I already discussed the “turn-of-the-month effect” in a previous issues of Seasonal Insights, see e.g. this report from earlier this year. The term describes the fact that price gains in the stock market tend to cluster around the turn of the month. By contrast, the rest of the time around the middle of the month is typically less profitable for investors.   Due to continual monetary inflation in the...
  • Flight of the Bricks - Precious Metals Supply and Demand
      The Lighthouse Moves Picture, if you will, a brick slowly falling off a cliff. The brick is printed with green ink, and engraved on it are the words “Federal Reserve Note” (FRN). A camera is mounted to the brick. The camera shows lots of things moving up. The cliff face is whizzing upwards at a blur. A black painted brick labeled “oil” is going up pretty fast, but not so fast as the cliff face. It is up 26% in a year. A special brick, a government data brick of sorts, labeled...
  • Russian Gold Rush - Precious Metals Supply and Demand
      Goldfinger Strikes, Sort Of This week, we saw a tweet from a prominent goldbug. He said, "Russia added another 9 tons of gold to its reserves in March. The hits just keep coming." How many errors in this short quip? We count six, exactly one error for every two words.   This one's got everything: Smersh, Spectre, Putler and Pussy Galore! [PT]   One, we call this the fallacy of the famous market actor. Russia is famous. Its purchase of 9 times is therefore imbued with...

Support Acting Man

Item Guides

Top10BestPro
j9TJzzN

The Review Insider

Austrian Theory and Investment

Archive

350x200

THE GOLD CARTEL: Government Intervention on Gold, the Mega Bubble in Paper and What This Means for Your Future

Realtime Charts

 

Gold in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Gold in EUR:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Silver in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Platinum in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

USD - Index:

[Most Recent USD from www.kitco.com]

 

Mish Talk

 
Buy Silver Now!
 
Buy Gold Now!
 

Oilprice.com

Diary of a Rogue Economist