Waiting for another shoe to drop
Q- Why did God create economists?
A- So meteorologists would not look quite so bad.
There has been a lot of doom and gloom lately. A whole bunch of bankers and economists are now in Washington, trying to fix it. By Wednesday last week I had concluded that the Paulson plan had created more uncertainty than it resolved, and world governments were all competing now to offer the best deals for international capital for fear they would go the way of Iceland
. Perhaps this weekend the uncertainty will end, although the gross distortion of the markets created by all this government activity will remain for years or decades.
"Who will get a handout? Who won't?" - has become the dominant economic thought.
Thursday's stock market took out those fears on the regional banks.
I have long advocated decentralization, local government, local ownership, and local responsibility for your actions. It's hard to look the guy you are screwing over in the eye
at the behest of your faceless masters.
The course the world governments and corporations are on is the precise opposite, and when those efforts fail... ordinary people will have to pull together again for mutual support.
Some are calling for the G7 to incorporate the more successful economies of the third world
. Gee, thanks for the invite to clean up the party mess....
I still believe that hyperinflation, at least in the conventional sense (1000s of percent) is impossible for the dollar. All the naysayers quote from both the Great Depression and the Weimar inflation
, and in neither case were the markets so globally linked, and in the Weimar Republic case, the Mark was not backed by 12 aircraft carriers, a multitude of nuclear submarines, an uncountable number of ICBMs, and the best (if currently overstretched) air force and army in the world. Fiat currencies, backed by force, can hold up for a while.
Note that I find it depressing to have to say that. I would prefer to be saying that there was some strong sector in the US economy that would save us all, but the online advertising bubble has run its course, and nothing has shown up so far to replace it. Nanotech and solar? Maybe...
Nothing has appeared to stop this endless flow of fake money after bad. Over the past few years all the core statistics have been jiggered as to make objective evaluations of what to do invalid, much as they were in the Soviet Union before its collapse. Why not give up on GDP, and substitute some index of more use than the CPI? An orgasm index for men, and a "feelin-fine" index for women, perhaps, and a quality of life index, which would also factor in man's impact on the planet.
I desperately would like to see fish populations stop imploding for one thing, and to get better than 0 cents a word for what I write, for another. I have no idea on how to accomplish either.
Protecting house prices? What long term good does that do for those that don't own? Or, take, for example, the auto industry bailout incorporated (without fanfare) in the budget passed recently...
GM and Chrysler, due for a 25 billion dollar handout/bailout, are in merger talks
These businesses are too big to fail? They are too big not to fail. When a corporation - or government - reaches a certain age and size, much like a person, it gets blocked arteries and mental problems. It's best that they die, or divest, and make room for something new to rise from the ashes.
Take a moral dilemma like this one, and smoke it for a while. Tesla Motors has developed a breakthrough electric sportscar
and is building a 250 million dollar facility to produce an all electric sedan, heavily subsidized by two local governments
, without help from the feds. What makes that investment less valid than the bailout from congress? Why should California be competing with the Federal Reserve? The Fed can print money, California can't. Who is making better investment decisions?
California's still in line for a 7 billion dollar bailout, because they can't get anyone to buy their bonds, perhaps due to their irresponsible spending? Debt, debt, and more Debt. When will adding on debt seem like an unsound option to anyone in power? High rates of inflation seem inevitable for the foreseeable future. Why buy poorly paying bonds from a bankrupt state with no worthwhile industrial outputs save movies and online advertising?
There is no sign of anyone finding a way to pay for anything except by printing money. I'd really like to know where the money for all this is going to come from... some change in government policies... some cutbacks... legal changes... somewhere....
Perhaps the Guvernator will legalize pot, like Mexico is trying to
- tax it - and send the tax money to the schools and Tesla? That would almost make sense in this environment. It would mellow everybody out, and boost sales of chocolate and twinkies, and cut down on the pesticides in use in the national forests
Regarding higher rates of inflation, there seems to be no valid hedge left (besides put options). I view the now global guarantee of banks by governments (australia
just joined the club
), as the ultimate gun to the heads of lenders that would rather choose to be prudent, and raise interest rates and lend only to those creditworthy.
I would have liked it if McCain hadn't show up for the first presidential debate, and the other presidential candidates had
. I still remember that the last time they tried, in 2004, the Libertarian and Green candidates were arrested
, which I guess was disincentive enough for them not to even try this year.
It sure would be nice to see some more options on the national debate stage than a choice between fascism or socialism.
It's astonishing how hard you have to work to hear these other points of view in the tumult, even with an RSS news feed. Here's Ralph Nader
, running independently and now on the ballot of 45 states, Ron Paul
, running nowhere but behind the scenes
, the Green Party
, and Chuck Baldwin
, of the Constitution Party
, and Bob Barr
, of the Libertarian Party
But, noo... A or B, A or B, A or B, crieth the MSM!
I'd like to hear from more real bankers, brick and mortar bankers, regional bankers, someone like Jimmy Stewart in "It's a wonderful life", to get the straight dope. The only one I
know (retired, father of a friend), just stuffed his savings into a coffee can.
According to wikipedia
, U.S. Treasury statistics indicate that, at the end of 2006, foreigners held 44% of federal debt. The statistics that I trust
) are saying that the monetary base jumped 16.8% over the past year (and roughly the same the previous year) and according to the M3, that almost all of that expansion, up to august, came from international sources.
This indicates, strongly, that foreigners now hold well over 50% of the US debt. (I await confirmation from other sources)
What we have is an untenable situation. Governments have piled up so much debt that even a modest increase of interest rates would break their budgets, so out come the guns and tanks.
The independent evaluators of risk are scared silly. That includes me.
Yet, I also think that the size of the gold market - physical gold - is now so small as to be a hedge only for the most lucky and connected of individuals. Gold, despite its cachet among gold bugs, is just another commodity now, its glory days are long past, and, still, getting hold of physical gold is harder than buying liquor, which has more intrinsic value.
I'm stocking up on scotch. I don't think wuffie will pay for anything any time soon.
If I had a trillion dollars
(apologies to the Bare Naked Ladies for appropriating their song
If I had a trillion dollars (instead of the Treasury)
If I had a trillion dollars, I'd buy an RV (and tow a Tesla off the back)
If I had a trillion dollars, I'd fix the roads and bridges (but I might focus more on trains)
If I had a trillion dollars, I'd walk away from my house
If I had a trillion dollars, I'd build a whole bunch of nuclear plants (and a lot of solar panels too)
If I had a trillion dollars, I'd buy everyone, absolutely everyone a beer (one of those nice micro-brews)
I still have a few more lyrics to add to that.
I still plan to fiddle while Rome burns, knowing full well what Nero accomplished on his return to Rome. There's absolutely nothing I can do to affect whatever happens next, so I plan to keep my head down, write no long term contracts, keep my own house in order and contribute to my local (Nicaraguan) economy as much as possible. I don't really want to participate in an economy where terry childs is still in jail and his management isn't
. There seems to be a long way left to go before that happens.
Jamie Johnson was so inspired by his stay in San Juan Del Sur to have gone right into the studio, and lay down 5 songs
. My favorite is Rainstorm
, because it accidentally ties into a lot of my own story. Have a listen, on headphones.
Labels: banking, Barack Obama, chuck baldwin, economy, gold, John Mccain, msm, music, nicaragua, Ron Paul