Setting the Financial Course – Crimes and Great Fortunes
BALTIMORE – “Behind every great fortune is a crime,” said French novelist Honoré de Balzac. Even our modest little pile owes much to a crime, though not our own. But what is behind Wilbur Ross’ billion-dollar fortune?
Today it’s Honoré de Balzac’s turn to provide us with a pithy quote. Balzac failed in his many attempts at getting a business off the ground. He tried various careers, from lawyer to publisher, to printer, to merchant… at one point he even tried his hand at becoming a professional politician. He mainly left small mountains of debt behind in these endeavors. He never could let go if this obsession: even though he had long made it as a writer, he still tried to import wood from Ukraine to France shortly before his death, in the hope of making a quick buck. These experiences contributed to making him a great writer though. His work has influenced quite a few famous writers, both contemporaries and later ones – and not only in France. He died just five months after getting married, so marriage apparently didn’t agree with him.
Photo credit: Louis Auguste Bisson
Surface Temperatures Plunge – the Great Pause Continues
Last year’s El Nino phenomenon temporarily provided succor to climate alarmists, who were increasingly bothered by the “Great Pause” – the fact that the tiny amount of warming experienced since the last cooling cycle ended in the late 1970s had apparently stopped. Despite trace amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere continuing to climb, mother nature decided to disobey alarmist models and temperatures went sideways for about 20 years (or even longer, depending on the data set).
Too bad penguins actually don’t live at the North Pole! One probably should refrain from obtaining climate information from rabidly leftist blogs. Incidentally, the same very same ice-floe has carried lost polar bears in the past, in particular the species “ursus bogus”. If one looks around a bit, there’s also a version with three penguins…
Too Smart to Think
These days everything must be smart. There are smart cities, smart grids, smart policies, smart TVs, smart cars, smart phones, smart watches, smart shoes, and smart glasses. There’s even something called smart underwear.
Modern-day wedgie-proof thinking drawers. How was life even possible before them? An area of the body not usually known for its thinking prowess is suddenly smarting up!
Running Out of Time and Money
BALTIMORE – We are looking ahead. And coming together is not only a clearer picture of how Trump’s reflation might turn out – but also a better understanding of what has gone wrong with the whole economy.
The famous Sears Tower (now Willis Tower) dominates the Chicago skyline. Its former owner Sears Holdings is on the ropes after being in business for 130 years. What happened?
Photo credit: Carol Highsmith
The Nasty Habits of Reality
BALTIMORE – People never intend to bring disasters upon themselves. But they sometimes put themselves in situations in which disaster is the only way out.
The War Between the States was supposed to be quick and decisive. The glorious histories of the war were already written – at least in the minds of the combatants – by the time of the First Battle of Bull Run.
General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson inspects the action at the First Battle of Bull Run. Confederate observers were suitably impressed. We’ve got this in the bag, they said to themselves. Let’s start writing the history books!
A Very Odd Growth Spurt in the True Money Supply
The growth rates of various “Austrian” measures of the US money supply (such as TMS-2 and money AMS) have accelerated significantly in recent months. That is quite surprising, as the Fed hasn’t been engaged in QE for quite some time and year-on-year growth in commercial bank credit has actually slowed down rather than accelerating of late. The only exception to this is mortgage lending growth – at least until recently. Growth in mortgage loans is still very slow though, especially compared to historical growth rates. It cannot really account for the recent surge in money supply growth either.
Year-on-year growth rates of TMS-2 (11.19%, black line) and total loans and leases at commercial banks (7.7%, red line) as of October. In absolute terms money TMS-2 has soared by a staggering $840 billion since the beginning of the year – click to enlarge.
Donald vs. the Swamp
BALTIMORE – Judging by the Diary mailbag, dear readers would like to see a more positive attitude towards the president-elect. We would like to take a more positive approach; we like wishful thinking as much as anyone. In particular, we’d like to see Mr. Trump do away with the inheritance tax.
A message from the swamp thing: all you’ll get is a maw-full of muck – it is knitting itself back together already. And besides, it is ticked off.
Illustration by Len Wein
Some Monday mornings are better than others. Others are worse than some. For one Amazon employee, this past Monday morning was particularly bad.
No doubt, the poor fellow would have been better off he’d called in sick to work. Such a simple decision would have saved him from extreme agony. But, unfortunately, he showed up at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters and put on a public and painful display of madness.
Good-bye cruel world! On this our planet, ignoring air friction, wind and other buoyancy-enhancing obstacles for the sake of this example, someone jumping off a building that is high enough will eventually attain a terminal velocity of 122 miles per hour. The acceleration is 32.2 feet per second², which is why one has to start from an appropriate height (a skydiver in a spread-eagle position will typically reach terminal velocity after about 12 seconds, traversing a distance of 1,483 feet). Jumping without a parachute may provide an especially pronounced adrenaline high, but is generally not advisable; more often than not it will be a one-off experience.
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