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All That’s Missing Is a Black Swan

All That’s Missing Is a Black Swan

“There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner as the result of a voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion, or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved.”
– Ludwig von Mises

The Federal Reserve chart above only goes back to 1970, but its message is clear, nevertheless. The velocity of money has dropped below that which was necessary to maintain a productive economy in 2009 and has never recovered.

The velocity of money can be defined as, “the rate at which money circulates or is exchanged in an economy in a given period.” It’s generally measured as a ratio of gross national product (GNP) to a country’s total money supply.

No money turnover… no economy.

But, if that’s so – if the chart is correct and the money turnover is by far the lowest since 1970 – why did the economy recover after 2010 and why are we in a bull market? Surely, the quantitative easing programme initiated by the Fed corrected the problem and happy days are here again.

Well, actually, neither of those commonly-held assumptions is correct. Quantitative easing didn’t pump money back into the failing economy and, more to the point, it wasn’t intended to. Most of the money that was created through quantitative easing never actually hit the streets.

To back up a bit, in 1999, the Fed, then under Alan Greenspan, convinced the US government, then under President Bill Clinton, to repeal the Glass Steagall Act, an act created in 1933 to assure that banks would never again recklessly create loans to the public that could never be repaid.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The French Revolution (The Sequel)

The French Revolution (The Sequel)

Here we have an eighteenth century depiction of two-thirds of the motto of the French Revolution – Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité, or “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.”

It’s significant that Karl Marx was inspired by the French Revolution to form his concept of a utopian society. He envisioned a worldwide revolution in which all people everywhere would do away with the rich and everyone would then be equal. He felt that this could be achieved by peaceful means in England and America, but would require force in Germany and Russia, and a “temporary” dictatorship by the proletariat in order to create the ideal society. The utopia, he said, would from then on be self-sustaining.

As we now know, his utopia was a bit naïve, as revolutionary leaders, once exposed to the heady thrill of achieving power, are extremely reluctant to then give it up. They tend to become far more autocratic and ruthless than their predecessors and, rejecting socialist abnegation for themselves, ultimately become the next aristocracy.

It’s a pity that Mr. Marx didn’t see this coming. It was certainly evident during the French revolution, as is seen in the contemporary banner above, with its prominently featured skull and crossbones. (In case the observer didn’t get the point, the artist further accentuated his composition with the addition of two guillotines.)

Had Mr. Marx been paying attention to the actual results of the revolution, he might have noticed that the “Liberty” was never intended to be liberty for all, merely for some. (The others were meant to offer up their heads to the cause.)

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Quantitative Brainwashing

Quantitative Brainwashing

We’re all familiar with the term, “quantitative easing.” It’s described as meaning, “A monetary policy in which a central bank purchases government securities or other securities from the market in order to lower interest rates and increase the money supply.”

Well, that sounds reasonable… even beneficial. But, unfortunately, that’s not really the whole story.

When QE was implemented, the purchasing power was weak and both government and personal debt had become so great that further borrowing would not solve the problem; it would only postpone it and, in the end, exacerbate it. Effectively, QE is not a solution to an economic problem, it’s a bonus of epic proportions, given to banks by governments, at the expense of the taxpayer.

But, of course, we shouldn’t be surprised that governments have passed off a massive redistribution of wealth from the taxpayer to their pals in the banking sector with such clever terms. Governments of today have become extremely adept at creating euphemisms for their misdeeds in order to pull the wool over the eyes of the populace.

At this point, we cannot turn on the daily news without being fed a full meal of carefully- worded mumbo jumbo, designed to further overwhelm whatever small voices of truth may be out there.

Let’s put this in perspective for a moment.

For millennia, political leaders have been in the practice of altering, confusing and even obliterating the truth, when possible. And it’s probably safe to say that, for as long as there have been media, there have been political leaders doing their best to control them.

During times of war, political leaders have serially restricted the media from simply telling the truth. During the American civil war, President Lincoln shut down some 300 newspapers and arrested some 14,000 journalists who had the audacity to contradict his statements to the public.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

It’s Not the End of the World

It’s Not the End of the World

Periodically, I’ll encounter someone who has read one of my essays and has decided not to pursue them further, stating, “You’re one of those ‘End of the world’ guys. I can’t be bothered reading the writings of someone who thinks we’re all doomed. I have a more positive outlook than that.”

In actual fact, I agree entirely with his latter two comments. I can’t be bothered reading the thoughts of a writer who says we’re all doomed, either. I, too, have a more positive outlook than that.

My one discrepancy with such comments is that I don’t by any means think that the present state of events will lead to the end of the world, as he assumes.

But then, neither am I naïve enough to think that if I just hope for the best, the powers that be will cease to be parasitical and predatory out of sympathy for me. They will not.

For any serious student of history, one of the great realisations that occurs at some point is that governments are inherently controlling by nature. The more control they have, the more they desire and the more they pursue. After all, governments actually produce nothing. They exist solely upon what they can extract from the people they rule over. Therefore, their personal success is not measured by how well they serve their people, it’s measured by how much they can extract from the people.

And so, it’s a given that all governments will pursue ever-greater levels of power over their minions up to and including the point of total dominance.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Future of Privacy

The Future of Privacy

Roughly one hundred years ago, the people who “ran things,” – the drivers behind governments, big business and banking – formulated a concept which became known by a number of names, but, predominantly, as the “New World Order.”

The concept was to put an end to unnecessary competition and warfare and have a central, unelected group of people run the entire world. It was not considered necessary to completely eliminate individual countries; the idea was to control them all centrally. It also didn’t necessarily mean that wars would end. Warfare can be quite useful for rulers, as they provide an excellent distraction from resentment toward the leaders who impose control over a people.

Ever since that time, this same rough group of people has continued generationally. Sometimes, but not always, the family names change. Useful people are added on and less useful ones removed. But the concept itself has continued, evolved and, in fact, gained strength.

But, as yet, the process remains incomplete. Several facets to a New World Order are not yet in place. It’s proven difficult to “fool all of the people all of the time,” so the effort to subjugate an entire world has taken more time than originally anticipated.

An essential component of this control is the elimination of the personal holding of wealth. Whilst the leaders intend to expand their own wealth in an unlimited fashion, they seek to suppress the ability of the average person to increase his own wealth. Wealth leads to independence and independence from a New World Order is unacceptable. Wealth gives people options. They must be taught to accept being herded like cattle and being compliant, or they will become troublesome.

Not surprising then, that, recently, organisations like the OECD have been created to eliminate the individual’s ability to create and maintain wealth for his own benefit.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Great Depression II

The Great Depression II

Whenever a movie has been a huge hit, the film industry tries to follow it up by doing a sequel. The sequel is almost invariably far more costly, as there’s the anticipation by those who create it that it will be an even bigger blockbuster than the original.

The Great Depression of the 1930’s is seen by most people to be the be-all and end-all of economic catastrophes and there’s good reason for that. Although the economic cycle has always existed, the period leading up to October 1929 was unusual, as those in the financial sector had become unusually creative.

Brokers encouraged people to buy into the stock market as heavily as they could afford to. When that business began to level off, they encouraged people to buy on margin. The idea was that the buyer would only put up a fraction of the money for the purchase and the broker would “guarantee” full payment to the seller. As a condition to the agreement, the buyer would have to relinquish to the broker the right to sell his stock at any point that he wished, should he feel the need to do so to get himself off the hook in the event of a significant economic change.

Both the buyer and the broker were buying stocks with money that neither one had. But the broker entered into the gamble so that he could charge commissions, which he would be paid immediately. The buyer entered into the gamble, as he had been promised by the broker that stocks were “going to the moon” and that he’d become rich.

Banks got into the game, as well. At one time, banks took money on deposit, then lent that money out at interest. They would always retain a percentage of the deposited money within the bank to assure that they could meet whatever the normal demand for withdrawals might be.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Professional Wrestling and the Media

Professional Wrestling and the Media

As a boy, I was quite non-violent, but I confess to having been fascinated with professional wrestling. For one hour, every Saturday morning, I’d watch Yukon Eric, Haystack Calhoun and Killer Kowalski attack each other in the ring in what was called, “professional wrestling.”

Of course, even as a boy, it was evident that it was a sham. Some wrestlers played the role of angry bullies; others were practically cartoon characters. The threats each made to the other before the match, the silly outfits, the absurd holds and body slams – it was clearly phony.

And yet, each Saturday, my friends would say, “Okay, maybe some of it’s phony, but did you see that guy bleedin’? That was real!”

Were my friends as gullible as that? Well not by nature, possibly, but, if they’d accepted that televised wrestling were totally phony, it would have lost all its excitement. Viewers would grow bored with it and cease to watch it. And, of course, it was so compelling – seeing two tough guys dramatically fighting it out in the ring.

And, of course, there was the tension created, since the protagonists always seemed to have been fairly evenly matched. Some viewers rooted for one wrestler, some rooted for the other. Right until the end of the match, it remained uncertain which would win. Tension was maximized.

But, today, wrestling has been taken to another level. The outfits are more theatrical, the drama is greater and, best of all, pretty women have been introduced. In fact, some had previously been beauty pageant contestants. Somehow it seems that the prettier they are, the more likely they’ll be capable wrestlers.

But, as adults, we’ve matured and are no longer so easily taken in.

Today, as responsible adults, we turn off wrestling and watch network news.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Police State in Slo-Mo

Police State in Slo-Mo

For many years, I’ve forecasted that the US will evolve into a police state; that it will begin slowly; then as more and more freedoms are removed, the creation of the police state will accelerate.

We’re now seeing that acceleration, as more and more Americans are detained, questioned, and having their property confiscated than ever before.

As an example, in 2016, some 20,000 travellers in and out of the US were stopped, often at random. Typically, their baggage was searched, their documents photocopied, access codes to their electronic devices demanded and their files copied. In most cases, no explanation was given, but they were advised that if the search was refused, they would be detained indefinitely.

The following year, in 2017, the numbers of people detained rose by 50%, to 30,000.

It’s important to note that the travellers were not threatened with arrest, which suggests that the authorities were working on the basis that the Patriot Act of 2001 allows all of the above activities—without cause being given, without a warrant being obtained, without access to a phone call or legal representation being allowed, and that the individuals in question may be detained, indefinitely.

This, of course, is in direct violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which states that people have the right “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.”

However, when people travel, they are particularly vulnerable, so the travellers in question are extremely unlikely to refuse. They understand that, “indefinitely” means, “until a Supreme Court ruling is passed, overturning the Patriot Act as unconstitutional.” If it hasn’t happened yet and isn’t under consideration, it’s safe to say that the level of police state allowed under the Patriot Act is permanent.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Cycle of Freedom

The Cycle of Freedom

Periodically, I offer up a statement by Scottish economist Alexander Tytler, who, in 1787, was reported to have commented on the then-new American Republic as follows:

A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.

The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been about 200 years. These nations always progressed through this sequence:

From Bondage to Moral Certitude;

from Moral Certitude to Great Courage;

from Great Courage to Liberty;

from Liberty to Abundance;

from Abundance to Selfishness;

from Selfishness to Complacency;

from Complacency to Apathy;

from Apathy to Dependency;

from Dependency to Bondage.

Tytler had it right. There is a Freedom Cycle. It’s not an accident. It’s based upon human nature, which is perennial. And it’s not something that can be manipulated to suddenly reverse itself, just because the citizens of a country are unhappy when they find themselves living in the declining stages. It has to play itself out.

Tytler was quite a scholar and had come to his conclusion, based upon the rise and fall of many nations, over the ages, with particular emphasis on the Athenian Republic.

Since Tytler’s time, we’ve been able to witness many formerly free countries slide inexorably into their final stages of decline. For example, the countries in the EU are further gone than the countries in North America, and Venezuela is further gone, still.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Investing in Collapse

Investing in Collapse

For years, I’ve been writing about Venezuela, describing it as the “movie” by which we can view the future of other jurisdictions that are presently in decline.

The reason is that declining nations follow the same pattern, time and time again, over the centuries. This is not coincidence. The pattern exists because human nature never changes, regardless of the era or the locale. Political leaders make the same mistakes as their forebears, and the people of a nation react in kind.

For this reason, countries have a sort of “shelf life.” They rise in prominence, due to work ethic and productivity. They then go through a period of abundance, which eventually deteriorates, due to complacency and apathy. Finally, they collapse into a period of bondage.

If we recognize that this pattern has played out countless times over the millennia, we can track any given country and assess where it is at present, in the pattern. For example, Europe and North America are presently in the last stages prior to collapse, Venezuela is in the process of collapse and Cuba is in the post-collapse recovery.

But, although this may be historically interesting, of what value is it to us in terms of our own lives and the choices we make for our future?

Well, we can observe Venezuela and see the effects of the present policies evident in our own country, if we happen to live in one that’s on the verge of collapse.

For example, we can see that ever-increasing largesse by a government—on the backs of productive taxpayers—is a major destructive trend. “Protective” tariffs and capital controls also lead to collapse. And excessive debt is a pathway to economic collapse.

We can see from the recent history in Venezuela how these political mistakes caused their collapse, and we can now observe how that collapse plays out.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Great Oz

The Great Oz - Jeff Thomas - 18/05/2018

For eight years (2008-2016), the US liberal media touted the brilliant accomplishments of the liberal president, whilst the conservative media groused that nothing he did was of value.

Today, the conservative US media are touting the brilliant accomplishments of the conservative president, whilst the liberal media grouse that nothing he does is of value.

So, which is it? Who is correct here? Well, actually, neither is correct.

Neither president is the great Oz. Neither one is in fact, “running the country.” Behind the scenes, the great machine of government churns along, often in complete disregard to the president or his stated policies.

However, the media credits or lambastes the president of the day as though he and he alone is in charge of the country. Whatever happens is treated as his accomplishment or failure.

And, typically, presidents play into this – taking personal credit for perceived accomplishments within the country and disavowing blame for perceived failures.

At present, the conservative media are emphasising low unemployment as an achievement, just as the liberal media did during the Obama Administration,

And yet, since the Clinton Administration, the unemployment figures have been consistently fudged. Those who work only part time are defined as “employed.” Those who have given up pursuing employment are removed from the unemployment equation. If those numbers were plugged back in, US unemployment would be in the double-digits during both the Obama and Trump presidencies.

The conservative media also tout Mister Trump for the increase in the stock market. Of course, the liberal media did the same in Mister Obama’s time. Stocks have been on the rise in both administrations.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Nothing Exceeds Like Excess

Nothing Exceeds Like Excess

Nothing Exceeds Like Excess
The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring a permanent ruin. But both are the refuge of political and economic opportunists.

—Ernest Hemingway

Military spending is the second largest item in the US federal budget after Social Security. It has a habit of increasing significantly each year, and the proposed 2019 defense budget is $886 billion (roughly double what it was in 2003).

US military spending exceeds the total of the next ten largest countries combined. Although the US government acknowledges 682 military bases in 63 countries, that number may be over 1,000 (if all military installations are included), in 156 countries. Total military personnel is estimated at over 1.4 million.

The reader could be forgiven if he felt that a US military base was rather unnecessary in, say, Djibouti or the Bahamas, yet the US Congress will not allow the closure of any military bases. (The Bi-partisan Budget Act of 2013 blocked future military base closings under the argument that they’re all essential for “national security.”) And Congress has a vested interest in keeping all bases open and consuming as much in tax dollars as possible (more on that later).

Of course, those bases need to be kept well-stocked with small arms, tanks, missiles and aircraft. Yet, in spite of the admittedly incredible number of US military bases across the globe, the additional stockpile of weaponry is so great that the government has difficulty finding places to put it all.

One storage location is pictured in the photo above—Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona. In spite of the size of the photo, it shows only a portion of the aircraft located there. (And bear in mind, such aircraft often cost over $100 million each.)

If asked, the military states that, although these aircraft are in dead storage and many have never seen any use whatever, they might possibly be called up for service, “if needed.” Of course, if they’re needed, they’re unlikely to be of use if located in Arizona. And, in addition, they may not be useful for warfare, as war technology has moved on since the days when such aircraft designs were suitable.

It’s been said that generals are forever fighting the last war, and this is certainly true. Even a layman can observe that such conventional aircraft will never see use, as they serve no purpose in modern warfare.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The All-Important Doorman

The All-Important Doorman

The All-Important Doorman

Picture this: A tribal leader from a distant country visits the US. He’s brought to a large apartment building in New York City. When he gets out of the car, he looks up at the great building and is quite impressed. A uniformed doorman exits the foyer and comes out on the sidewalk. The tribesman sees the gold braiding and brass buttons of his coat and immediately decides that this is a very important person. Again he looks up at the building and says to the doorman, “This is a very great home you have. You must be very important indeed.”

Of course, if we were present, we might chuckle at the tribesman’s naiveté. The owners of such a great building would never greet people at the entrance. They leave such trivial tasks to hired servants, whilst they run the real business without ever needing any direct contact with visitors as they enter the building. And, in addition, doormen come and go – they are, after all, disposable. The owners – those who control what happens in the building – retain their positions over the long term… and may remain anonymous, if they so choose.

We find this simple concept easy enough to understand, and yet we chronically have difficulty in understanding that, in most countries, the president, or prime minister, is not by any means the man who makes the big decisions in the running of the country.

We assume that, because we were allowed to vote for our leader, he must actually be our leader. But, as Mark Twain has at times been credited as saying, “If voting made any difference, they wouldn’t let us do it.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Are Governments Running Out of Candy?

Are Governments Running Out of Candy?

By now, many readers will have seen the popular American YouTube video by Mark Dice in which he stands on a city sidewalk and offers passers-by a free gift. They may choose between a 10-ounce silver bar or a large Hershey’s candy bar.

Each taker chooses the candy – most of them with no deliberation. The only taker who seems to hesitate at all soon decides on the candy, as “I don’t have any way to do anything with the silver.” (Behind them is a coin shop. Mister Dice offers to take the silver bar inside if she wishes, but she’s uninterested and takes the candy.)

A 10-ounce silver bar is presently valued at about $140, the Hershey’s bar at about $2.

(Editor’s Note: If you have not seen the video, please see below.)

Mister Dice doesn’t comment in the video as to what lesson might be learned from this, but an obvious one would be that Americans (or at least those who reside in his home town of San Diego, California) are prone to prefer instant gratification over something of substantially greater, but delayed value.

If this is his intent, he’s succeeded well in his light-hearted, but instructive video.

Since the 1950’s, much of the world has perceived Americans as being on “Easy Street,” and in recent decades, the U.S. government has fuelled American complacency through a consciousness of easy money and entitlement.

And so, Americans are often perceived by those outside the U.S. as being somewhat insulated, spoiled, naïve, and short-sighted. But, if this is true, Americans certainly aren’t alone. Much the same exists in Europe, Canada, and quite a few other countries that have, over recent decades, followed the American socio-economic model.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Where Does It End?

Where Does It End?

Where Does It End?

It’s nothing new.

Whenever a major country is in decline and approaching collapse, a contingent arises that does everything it can to speed up the process toward collapse. This is always done in the same way:

  • Vilify the established rulers as being the culprits for the nation’s woes.
  • Establish simplistic arguments to support that view. (The arguments need not be entirely logical or supportable, but they must have emotional public appeal.)
  • Create simplistic rhetoric that supports the destruction of the establishment and its icons.
  • Make the arguments and rhetoric as ubiquitous as possible (particularly through the media).

 

Then, like any recipe, turn up the heat and bake until done.

Generally, the destruction of the first icon (most often a statue) requires some sort of explanation, regardless of how flimsy the argument may be. After that has succeeded, praise is to be showered on those who took part, egging them, and others, on to do more. As each new icon falls, less justification is necessary and, in the end, only blind anger is required to keep the destruction going.

In the present era, we’re witnessing this age-old process taking place in quite a few countries, but notably in the US.

But, why the US—the one country in the world that began as possibly the most advanced, freest nation the world had ever seen? How did this come to pass in “the land of the free”?

Well, truth be told, no matter how inspired or sincere the founding fathers of any nation may be, those who would usurp them are always many in number and, in most cases, are prepared to do whatever it takes to slowly take power and return to tyrannical rule.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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