Thursday, December 23, 2010

Freedom Watch on the Fed (12/21/10)

1 Ron Paul and Tom Woods

2 Steve Horwitz and Jim Rogers

3 "Fear the Boom and Bust"

4 Panel discussion on Bailouts

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Carter Green Steakhouse

Carter Green Steakhouse

Welcome to a restaurant that values the traditions of classic American steakhouse fare. We proudly specialize in unbeatable presentations of prime steak, live Boston lobsters and an extensive selection of fine wines.

We’ve discarded the rules that often come along with a fine meal. There are no automatic gratuities for example. Just a restaurant with a staff dedicated to preparing and serving you an extraordinary meal.

What I had:

Ahi Tuna Crudo--Tears of Cleopatra vinaigrette and diced avacado

Heart of Romaine--with white anchovies

center cut filet (12 oz?)

baked sweet potato

apple fritter with praline ice cream and assorted berries



My thoughts: Amazing value for a high end steakhouse. Salad and potato included with the steak. Outstanding bread basket with a scoop of of soft easily spreadable butter. Chilled water, no ice, poured from a swing to quart bottle. Very attentive staff. Allen Brother steaks. Near perfect rare on the filet.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Doug Casey on Ben Bernanke

He's either a knave or a fool – possibly both. But the odds are he's just an educated fool, an archetypical, clinical example of one. Either way, it's bad news for the U.S. and global economies...

Cutting taxes is always good for any economy, and so is minimizing red tape, with the U.S. tax code being among the worst masses of red tape in existence. But the kind of seismic shifts needed – like eliminating capital gains taxes entirely, and income taxes as well – are not politically viable. It does no good to make marginal improvements to a system that is fundamentally flawed and broken. Bernanke is proposing a band-aid where amputation is needed...

He may just have a complete lack of honesty. And absolutely a complete lack of understanding of economics, finance, history, and monetary theory – a shameful but perhaps predictable state for someone who's lived his whole life in an ivory tower. The man has been wrong about everything he's ever said about the U.S. economy...


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Bernanke's 60 Minutes Interview

Sunday night’s interview was a shameless softballing by the timid reporter, Scott Pelley.

Mr. Pelley should have asked challenging questions. Why aren’t Fed policies helping to create jobs? When you say the Fed doesn’t “print” money, aren’t you being disingenuous since you create money by the stroke of a keyboard? You say the risk of not acting during the crisis in 2008 would have caused another Great Depression as a result of a financial collapse. Do you have any reasonable evidence of that? What basis do you have for saying we would have 25% unemployment without the Fed’s $3.3 trillion “rescue.” Why are interest rates rising instead of declining as a result of your QE2 policy? If you believe your policies have helped the economy, why haven’t they worked so far? Etcetera …

I probably disagree with almost everything Dr. Bernanke says in the 60 Minutes interview. It just amazes me that Chairman Bernanke could sit there and say the things he said in light of the Fed’s track record. He is totally incapable of admitting that the Fed is the source of our problems not our solutions.

This king has no clothes.



The U.S. economy has experienced 33 recessions since around the time of the Civil War, and has successfully emerged after each one into a new cycle of growth and expansion, and there's no reason that this last recession and the current expansion will be any different. Judging by the ongoing expansion of U.S. patent activity, the future looks very bright, and American exceptionalism will continue to thrive.


Stock Market Capitalization


Unemployment Compensation

this extension doesn't add additional weeks of benefits; it keeps the above structure in place for an additional 13 months.


Bank Failures

FDIC Bank Failures by Year


Friday, December 3, 2010

Cartoon: Bi-Partisan Crisis

November Unemployment 9.8%

This graph shows the job losses from the start of the employment recession, in percentage terms - this time from the start of the recession. In the previous post, the graph showed the job losses aligned at the bottom.The dotted line shows payroll employment excluding temporary Census workers. This is by far the worst post WWII employment recession.

The second graph shows the job losses from the start of the employment recession, in percentage terms aligned at maximum job losses.The dotted line is ex-Census hiring. The two lines have joined since the decennial Census is over.For the current employment recession, employment peaked in December 2007, and this recession is by far the worst recession since WWII in percentage terms, and 2nd worst in terms of the unemployment rate (only the early '80s recession with a peak of 10.8 percent was worse).

The unemployment rate increased to 9.8% (red line).The Employment-Population ratio declined to 58.2% in November matching the cycle low set in 2009 (black line). The Labor Force Participation Rate was steady at 64.5% in November (blue line). This is the percentage of the working age population in the labor force. The participation rate is well below the 66% to 67% rate that was normal over the last 20 years.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Keynesian Economics is Wrong

Coffee and Innovation

Jeff Tucker writes:

To understand why the Keurig coffee maker is firing up the forces of history in a progressive direction, we need to reflect on the dynamics of the relentless technological trend from the collective to the individual...

This relentless push to fulfill the demands of individualism is the driving force of human history.
And so it is with coffee. For too long we've lived with a community form of delivery. Whatever collectivist pot was made for the whole group is what we drank. Never mind that it is burned from the heating pad. Never mind that it is too strong or too weak, too dark or too light, or that it is just plain gross. Never mind that the preparation and clean up requires that we stare at unappetizingly soaked coffee grounds that clog our sinks and stink up our trash. It was what we had, and we made do.

Then came Starbucks and other specialized shops. Here we could order what we wanted and every drink was prepared fresh and according to our specifications. We are all, after all, individuals, each of us with different tastes, desires, and demands. When given the chance to express our wishes, we take it, and therein lies a great entrepreneurial opportunity for those who are daring and creative enough, and willing to take on the responsibility for giving history a push forward.

In retrospect, the whole Keurig mania seems perfectly obvious, even inevitable. We want Starbucks in our homes. We want endless variety. We want it to be fast. We do not want to wake up to the shattering sound of coffee beans in a horrible grinding machine. In fact, though we had never thought of it before, we do not want to look at coffee grounds, before or after they become soaked.

When you first observe the K-cup that Keurig uses, your thought might be: this is ridiculously inefficient. Why would anyone take a tiny amount of coffee and package it in plastic with a complicated internal filtering system and waste foil to cover the top just to produce a single cup of coffee? But you know what? History is not about some outsider's view of what is or is not efficient according to some preset calculus. History is about the ideas and preferences of real human beings.

K-cups also owe their success to a software-style model of development. Keurig developed the hardware and sold it (and its K-cup patent) to Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. The company might have then to decided to cash in on its monopoly privileges but GMCR seemed to understand that there are profits to be made through liberality than restriction. It licensed many different companies to produce the K-cup firmware, so that now there is a gigantic market for these things, and even a market for contraptions to display them.

When the patent expires in 2012, the price of the K-cup will probably fall but the blow to GMCR will be minimal (as this blogger argues) because so many are already competing for market share. Note too that the mainstreaming of the K-cup came only after this liberalization; only as recently as 2007, when you only found these coffee makers in upscale law firms, was the company still hammering knock-off cup makers with lawsuits.

When the patent expires next year, all bets are off. I fully predict that the next generation will never see another coffee ground, never have to deal with grungy wet filters, any more than people who eat bacon today have to watch pigs being rounded up and slaughtered. The division of labor will kick in so that consumers have only one job to do: drink great coffee according to their own individual preferences.

read the essay

Cartoon: Marriage

Cartoon: Pyramid Schemes

The Triumphant Return of Hayek

Newsweek writes:

Last year the consensus opinion was that we are all Keynesians now. Virtually everyone in the commentariat believed that John Maynard Keynes’s solution for the Great Depression—heavy government spending to resuscitate the economy—was also the answer to today’s global downturn...From Europe to the United States, as voters started to reward candidates focused on fiscal discipline and less government intervention, Keynesianism quickly fell out of favor.

One key exception was U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke. Dissatisfied with the gradual recovery and a high unemployment rate, he let it be known that he thought more stimulus was in order, and realizing that was not in the congressional cards, he decided to take monetary activism to a new level by offering an open-ended commitment to pump as much money into the system as required to meet the Fed’s dual mandate of maximum employment and price stability. This is the first time a Fed chairman has explicitly stated that monetary policy can turbocharge an economic recovery. Bernanke says he is doing everything Milton Friedman would have had the Fed do. Friedman, the father of monetarism, argued that the Great Depression was largely the result of a major contraction in money supply, and that such a severe economic outcome could have been avoided had the Fed held the money supply stable.

The public doesn’t buy it. There’s a growing backlash against the Fed’s monetary activism, for two reasons. It is increasingly clear that the Fed can print all the money it wants to but has no control over where it ends up. Ever since the Fed stepped up talk of quantitative easing this summer, the prospect of easy money has driven up prices of commodities and emerging-market stocks, and Wall Street is abuzz with talk of the “next bubble.” Second, monetary activism suffers from the same fundamental flaw as Keynesianism, in that it protects inefficient players instead of injecting renewed vigor into the economy...

In a sign of the times, some of the most popular videos on YouTube this year are satires on economic policy; the latest lampoons the Fed amid a growing feeling that policymakers are committing what economist Friedrich Hayek called the “fatal conceit” in micromanaging the economic cycle. Hayek hated policy intervention of any kind.

read the article