Quarta-feira, Novembro 30, 2011
GDP: nonsense on stilts:
Economic growth, or just growth, is today’s holy grail, on every politician’s lips .. Yet there are two glaringly obvious reasons why the whole concept of GDP is pure piffle.
Mathematical accuracy is impossible ..
But far more important is the nature of GDP itself. In particular, to what extent does it measure current consumer standards as opposed to prosperity in future? These two are entirely at odds with each other, because future prosperity is governed largely by the role of capital goods. But an increase of capital (i.e. savings and investment) means that current living standards are held back in the short term. So guess what: GDP statistics take little or no account of saving, the sine qua none for long term growth!
Ludwig von Mises, the great Austrian School economist, said that any macro-economic concept of national income is a mere political slogan devoid of any cognitive value. In fact it is worse than that because the GDP concept totally obliterates what is actually going on in a market economy.
Murray Rothbard, another king of the Austrian School, argued that all government spending should be subtracted from private spending as depredation on private production, and then we should subtract the resources drained from the private sector, to arrive at ‘Private Product Remaining in Private Hands’. Which brave economist will sign up to calculate this? Whatever, we must wean ourselves off GDP and all its works.
On August 14, 1990, at the International Society for Individual Liberty's 5th World Libertarian Conference, Milton Friedman took a step back from the details of public policy issues and discussed basic libertarian beliefs and values. "I have no right to coerce someone else," he said, "because I cannot be sure that I'm right and he is wrong."
Harvey Sachs on how printing made Beethoven immortal:
Not until Beethoven's day, however, did winning a place in posterity become a major goal - the greatest goal, for many composers. With the rise, in his lifetime, of the bourgeoisie, middle-class families were able to give their children music lessons, and Hausmusik - music in the home became the home entertainment system of the 1800s. The equipment required for making it comprised a piano, one or more other instruments and/or voices, and printed music, the demand for which increased almost exponentially. This phenomenon occurred just as the figure of the Romantic genius - the artist as a being unhampered by normal constraints - was taking hold. The music of the brilliant, eccentric Beethoven circulated widely, and the conviction that this music would become "deathless" was a logical consequence of both his persona and the diffusion of his works. In the letter from his Viennese admirers, the reference to "the many who joyfully acknowledge your worth and what you have become for the present as well as the future" is an exceptionally significant sign of the times: The arts were no longer to be considered mere "means and objects of pastime." Composers were becoming the high priests, perhaps even the gods, of a secular religion; the best among them were expected to create works that would endure, ..
No seguimento de Napolitano on Stewart,
Libertarian News Responds: Jon Stewart’s 19 Questions To Libertarians:
Libertarian News Responds: Jon Stewart’s 19 Questions To Libertarians:
Is government inherently evil?
If by government you mean the modern State, then yes. If people want something, they will pay for it voluntarily. Since nothing government does is predicated on the voluntary funding of resources, it stands to reason that most of what the government does is either not desired by the general public or is done in an entirely inefficient manner. If the government provided services that people actually wanted, it wouldn’t have to use coercion to fund whatever projects it was proposing. From this fact, we can deduce that the State wantonly destroys or wastes resources and does so through the use of violent threats, which I find to be a great definition of the word evil.
Quinta-feira, Novembro 24, 2011
desligar o suporte vital:
E, portanto, na ausência de convergência e afinidade económica, financeira, cultural e política, o euro, tal como este existe hoje, persiste, mas apenas como um doente em morte cerebral. A realidade, porém, é que quando estamos na presença de um doente em morte cerebral nunca se pede à família que desligue o suporte vital; o médico desliga-o e ponto final. É isso que a Alemanha se encarregará de fazer, mais tarde ou, como parece vir a ser agora, mais cedo.
Mike Maloney was lucky enough to interview Congressman Ron Paul .. The full interview never made it to YouTube, so here it is for the first time. Although the interview itself is dated (filmed in late 2007), the ideals of liberty, free markets, and gold delivering a knockout blow to fiat currency are not.
Quarta-feira, Novembro 23, 2011
Via O Insurgente, Climategate, parte II,
Climategate 2.0: the Warmists’ seven stages of grief e Uh oh, global warming loons: here comes Climategate II, por James Delingpole.
Here’s an amusing analysis of the warmist trolls’ various lines of defence, which I picked up from the comments at Watts Up With That: (I wd give a hat tip except I’ve gone and lost the bit: if anyone can re-find it for me let me know)
Stage 1: they aren’t real emails
Stage 2: they are real emails but they aren’t in context
Stage 3: they are in context, but that’s how scientists work
Stage 4: ok, this isn’t really science, but you guys stole the emails!
Stage 5: this is old stuff
Stage 6: this is nothing
Stage 7: look everyone! Winter storm! See, we have proof of our theories now.
Repeat as needed
Terça-feira, Novembro 22, 2011
Farming without subsidies?:
What would the world look like without agricultural subsidies? What would the United States look like? If a crystal ball exists for those questions, its name is New Zealand, one of the first and still one of the few modern countries to have completely dismantled its system of agricultural price supports and other forms of economic protection for farmers.
Brace yourself: this is free-market faith to make Adam Smith proud. But the New Zealand experience is pretty persuasive. Well into its second decade of subsidy-free farming, New Zealand enjoys a worldwide reputation for its high-quality, efficient and innovative agricultural systems.
New Zealand agriculture is profitable without subsidies, and that means more people staying in the business. Alone among developed countries of the world, New Zealand has virtually the same percentage of its population employed in agriculture today as it did 30 years ago, and the same number of people living in rural areas as it did in 1920. Although the transition to an unsubsidized farm economy wasn’t easy, memories of the adjustment period are fading fast and today there are few critics to be found of the country’s bold move.
Segunda-feira, Novembro 21, 2011
Um texto semi-humorístico que reflecte algumas descobertas da Escolha Pública — Parkinson's Law (1955):
IT is a commonplace observation that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion ..
Granted that work (and especially paper work) is thus elastic in its demands on time, it is manifest that there need be little or no relationship between the work to be done and the size of the staff to which it may be assigned. Before the discovery of a new scientific law—herewith presented to the public for the first time, and to be called Parkinson's Law*—there has, however, been insufficient recognition of the implications of this fact in the field of public administration. Politicians and taxpayers have assumed (with occasional phases of doubt) that a rising total in the number of civil servants must reflect a growing volume of work to be done. Cynics, in questioning this belief, have imagined that the multiplication of officials must have left some of them idle or all of them able to work for shorter hours. But this is a matter in which faith and doubt seem equally misplaced. The fact is that the number of the officials and the quantity of the work to be done are not related to each other at all. The rise in the total of those employed is governed by Parkinson's Law, and would be much the same whether the volume of the work were to increase, diminish or even disappear.
Via Cafe Hayek, What the eurozone crisis teaches us about the subprime crisis:
Consider the following:
Banks pour huge amounts of money into one particular asset class. They are encouraged to do this by public policymakers .. These assets have a long tradition of doing well .. The asset market in question suddenly takes a big dive as default risk increases sharply. This drags down many large banks, forcing policymakers to provide assistance.
What have I just described? The sub-prime fiasco or the PIGS sovereign debt fiasco? I’d say both. I’d say these two crises are essentially identical ..
.. let’s consider the dominant (progressive) narrative of the sub-prime crisis. If you read the mainstream media you will see it described as a sort of morality play; the evils of deregulation, which allowed the greedy big banks to take highly leveraged gambles with other people’s money, and then off-load the risk on to both taxpayers and unsuspecting buyers of MBSs ..
Obviously it would be impossible to tell a similar story for the sovereign debt crisis. No regulator in his right mind would ever contemplate telling big banks not to buy European sovereign debt because it’s too risky. Indeed the previous attempt at regulation (Basel II) encouraged banks to put funds into those “safe investments.” Blaming the euro crisis on deregulation doesn’t even pass the laugh test. The criminals were the regulators themselves. Is the term ‘criminal’ hyperbole on my part? Not at all. Suppose Enron executives had used the same accounting techniques as the Greek government. They’d all be in jail. And as for Berlusconi, what can one say about a leader who continually passes laws exempting the Prime Minister from the very crimes he was accused of having committed? ..
.. the eurozone crisis was obviously not caused by deregulation and greedy bankers. Then if the sub-prime crisis was basically identical, at least in its essence, how can deregulation be the root cause of the former crisis?
Things That Make You Go Hmmm.... Such As An Empty Box Filled With Promises Of Money, And Europe's Soup Nazi:
Xtranormal Explains The European Non-Bailout
Things That Make You Go Hmmm.... Such As An Empty Box Filled With Promises Of Money, And Europe's Soup Nazi:
.. "The EFSF is basically an empty box filled with promises of money - many of them from the very people who are most likely to need to borrow that same money. Should they need to borrow the money, they won’t be able to make good on their promises so there will be less money for them to borrow.
Now the brain trust running Europe have decided, in their collective wisdom, to apply leverage to the non-existent money in the empty box that they have yet to actually borrow, so it can backstop even more of the hundreds of billions of Euros of sovereign debt issued by countries whose finances are in such dire straits that they either require the kind of robust growth that is hardly likely to materialize any time soon or the forgiveness by the holders of that debt of a large part of it....
Xtranormal Explains The European Non-Bailout
The EU's architects never meant it to be a democracy
.. the EU’s ruling elite has toppled two more elected prime ministers, to replace them with technocratic officials who can be trusted to do Brussels’s bidding.
The new Greek prime minister, Lucas Papademos, was the man who, as head of Greece’s central bank, fiddled the figures to enable Greece to get into the euro (against the rules) in the first place – before being rewarded with a senior post in the European Central Bank. He is no more democratically elected than Mario Monti, who will most likely be Italy’s new prime minister and had hurriedly to be made a “senator for life” to qualify him for the job. Monti’s main qualification is that, as a former senior EU Commissioner, he has long been a member of the Brussels elite himself.
.. the “European project” was never intended to be a democratic institution.
The idea first conceived back in the 1920s by two senior officials of the League of Nations – Jean Monnet and Arthur Salter, a British civil servant – was a United States of Europe, ruled by a government of unelected technocrats like themselves. Two things were anathema to them: nation states with the power of veto (which they had seen destroy the League of Nations) and any need to consult the wishes of the people in elections.
.. this was the idea that Monnet put at the heart of the “project” from 1950 onwards, modelling his “government of Europe” on precisely the same four institutions that made up the League of Nations – a commission, a council of ministers, a parliament and a court. Thus, step by step over decades, Monnet’s technocratic dream has come to pass.
They had disposed of the greatest political obstacle to the onward march of their project just as ruthlessly as they were later to brush aside all those referendums expressing the objections of the French, the Dutch and the Irish to their Constitution. The one thing for which there has never been any place in their grand design is democracy ..
What is Normal?:
The EPA has a new slideshow purporting to aggregate these “abnormalities.” While I could spend all year going through each slide, I want to focus on just one.
.. Here is a longer history of that same glacier (thanks to the Real Science blog for the pointer, this is a much better map than the one I have used in the past).
Those who want to attribute the recent retreat to CO2 have to explain what drove the glacier to retreat all that way from 1760 to 1960, and why that factor stopped in 1960 at exactly the time Co2 supposedly took over.
By the way, this same exact story can be seen in glaciers around the world. Glaciers began retreating at the end of the little ice age, and if anything that pace of retreat has slowed somewhat over the last few decades.
Pro-Business and Pro-Market are Not the Same:
Steve Jobs reportedly warned President Barack Obama that he would not be back in the White House for a second term unless he adopted more business-friendly policies ..
Actually, it's not a president's job to be business-friendly. It's a president's job to be market-friendly. There's a difference .. any attempt to be "business-friendly" will result in friendliness towards some businesses at the expense of others ..
Let’s be clear: No company requiring government help should be getting any. Government should not be rewarding and subsidizing failure.
Let’s be clear again: No company that could otherwise flourish in a free market needs government help. That's why the answer is hands off, free market capitalism -- not "business-friendly" policies.
The issue is deeper than economics. A free market economy is one in which minds are left free to think. Leaving minds free to think, create and produce? Now there’s a business-friendly policy for you!
We need ideology, but just a different kind. That ideology's name is: Hands off, pro-market capitalism. There is no other solution, and yet nobody prominent is embracing it.
Seguro defende "emissão de moeda pelo BCE" e considera "indispensável" a introdução de eurobonds:
Agora que o modelo de tax-and-spend faliu, sempre que um sucialista abre a boca, só pode ser ou para esconder as borradas que criou, ou para advogar mais desperdício público, mais dívida para ser paga pelas próximas gerações (e os juros pela geração presente), mais impostos (incluindo subida de preços provocada pela inflação monetária = Eurobonds), mais desresponsabilização de políticos e burocratas, mais parasitismo de quem produz sobrecarregado com o esbulho fiscal e regulamentar imposto pelo Estado morbidamente obeso.
Uma sociedade decente mandaria esta gentinha calar-se. Acontece que a sociedade já foi largamente influenciada pelas engenharias sociais desta gentalha - uma sociedade dividida, comprada, vendida a grandes interesses (sindicatos, ordens, media, empresas públicas, "grandes centros de decisão nacional", ...). Que já se esqueceu que a vida custa a ganhar e que quem não tem princípios sólidos não é de confiança, e que prefere acreditar em vendedores da banha da cobra instigadores da "guerra de classes".
Já basta. Que estes miseráveis vão pregar o roubo para outras bandas. Roubem uns aos outros -- se isso cria "prosperidade". Arruinaram países inteiros e agora querem arruinar continentes inteiros. Já é tempo das pessoas perceberem que dois lobos e uma ovelha a decidir o que jantam é mau sistema. Que aumentar o rebanho nada muda. E que votar num e outro lobo nada muda. É preciso menos política, menos "vontade" da "maioria" nas nossas vidas, menos tributo aos senhores do regime - sim, menos socialismo, e menos "democracia".
Domingo, Novembro 20, 2011
Via O Insurgente:Does socialism work? A classroom experiment, por Daniel J. Mitchell.
There are five morals to this story:
1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.
2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.
3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.
4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.
5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.
Reasons to support sound money:
.. I support sound money for two very good reasons:
- Firstly, it is a basic human right to choose to save, without our savings being debased by the tax of monetary inflation ..
- Secondly, it is a basic right for us to own our own money rather than have it owned by the banks ..
If we had stuck to these sound money principles, several benefits automatically follow, some of which I will briefly summarise for you, and I will have a little more to say about them in a moment:
- With sound money, governments cannot print money to fund their activities, so the true cost of government becomes apparent to the electorate ..
- With sound money, governments are unable to go to war without taxpayers being conscious of the true cost ..
- With sound money, savings are protected. Prices tend to fall gradually over time ..
- With sound money, business cycles do not occur
Keynes’s “Screwball Idea” por Don Boudreaux:
Bob Higgs’s latest post – on the bizarre Chapter 24 of Keynes’s General Theory (a chapter that, in my view, disqualifies Keynes from being regarded as a capable economist) – deserves its own link here.The Euthanasia of the Saver:
In chapter 24 of The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, John Maynard Keynes laid out his screwball idea that capital might soon become, or be made to become, no longer scarce; hence no payment would have to be made to induce people to save, and that condition would be splendid inasmuch as it would entail the “euthanasia of the rentier.” This stuff really must be seen to be believed ..
I don’t understand aggregate demand por Russ Roberts:
It does not follow that an increase in government spending increases the amount of buying and selling or the health of the economy. It is an empirical question. It would surely depend on what the government buys when it increases spending. Proponents of increased government spending during bad times often argue that this is irrelevant. Keynes said so and so has Joseph Stiglitz. I’m sure they are not alone.
The attempts to measure the multiplier between .5 and 2 ..
The imprecision of these estimates is alarming and should induce caution. Why do the people who advocate increasing government spending right now in large amounts act as if there is a free lunch ..?
I have ignored the cost of taxes in this discussion and any risk of damage to the health of the economy when the government continues to leave beyond its means in increasing amounts. Do the proponents assume that these risks are minimal or to be ignored in the face of short-run problems?
Mais um passo na direcção da ditadura fiscal n'O Insurgente:
E assim se converte um questionável instrumento de combate à corrupção de titulares de cargos públicos numa inaceitável ferramenta de perseguição fiscal e expropriação .. Junte-se esta possibilidade de ameaça de prisão e confisco com outras medidas geniais como a obrigatoriedade de declaração de presentes em dinheiro superiores a 500 euros .. bem como levantamento automático de sigilo bancário para quem reclamar de uma decisão do fisco, e vê-se bem o leque de poderes arbitrários que permitem ao estado .. transtornar durante anos a vida de qualquer cidadão (mesmo que depois de anos de calvário os tribunais acabem por lhe dar razão).
Sexta-feira, Novembro 18, 2011
Czech president sees 'lost decade' for Europe:
The liberal economist known for ardent euro-scepticism slammed disproportionate growth in public spending, the careless provision of bank loans and widespread failure to keep balanced government budgets as being the root causes behind the eurozone debt crisis.
"The degree of regulation, control, management, organising economic life from above and the degree of suppressing the market are way beyond the border of any rational economic setting," he said.
"The degree of government intervention in the economy in today's EU is absolutely different from the early aggressive communism, but it is not so different from its final, markedly "softer" phases," Klaus added.
Quarta-feira, Novembro 16, 2011
No seguimento de a Internet está segura com o Estado (2):
.. the worst bill in Internet history, the one where government and their corporations get unbelievable power to take down sites, threaten payment processors into stopping payment to sites on a blacklist, and throw people in jail for posting ordinary content is about to pass before the end of this year.
PROTECT IP (S. 968)/SOPA (HR. 3261) creates the first system for Internet censorship - this bill has sweeping provisions that give the government and corporations leeway and legal cover for taking down sites "by accident," mistakenly, or for NOT doing "enough" to protect the interests of Hollywood. These bills that are moving very quickly through Congress and can pass before Christmas aim to give the US government and corporations the ability to block sites over infringing links posted by their users and give ISPs the release to take any means to block peoples' sites, including slowing down your connection. That's right, some say this bill is a workaround to net neutrality and is bigger than net neutrality.
Terça-feira, Novembro 15, 2011
Taxation Is the Lifeblood of the State:
The Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises made this point in his classic treatise, Human Action, in 1949. In discussing the role of historical data in economics, he wrote: “The champions of logically incompatible theories claim the same events as the proof that their point of view has been tested by experience. The truth is that the experience of a complex phenomenon—and there is no other experience in the realm of human action—can always be interpreted on the ground of various antithetic theories. . . . History cannot teach us any general rule, principle, or law.”
Basically, taxes alter relative prices .. an income tax can be expected, on the margin, to reduce the willingness of some people to work.
While all this is important, it’s probably more important to consider what happens to taxes after the government collects them. How government officials spend tax revenue can damage the economy as much as the tax itself can. That’s because taxes are used for any number of things that distort markets and waste resources, such as providing subsidies to favored industries or strengthening bureaucracies.
So the real problem with taxes and tax increases may be that they simply feed the beast—the political and less-efficient government sector—while shrinking the voluntary, more-efficient private sector. For anyone concerned about liberty this is reason enough to oppose higher taxes.
There is No Disinterested Authority:
In a recent discussion, someone proposed “a political system comprised of professionals rather than career politicians.” .. The problem with such a proposal is that there’s no such thing as neutral or disinterested expertise .. At any given time, a professional culture has a lot invested emotionally in defending the existing paradigm against challenges ..
The problem with this is that .. The most rational and efficient solutions they choose, oddly enough, will just happen to be “reforms” that can be carried out by people like themselves .. “properly qualified professionals” see increased institutionalization and hierarchy — under the supervision of professionals like themselves — as the solution to everything.
There’s a saying .. — that society can’t solve problems on the same level of thinking that created them .. When a giant, centralized, hierarchical institution, governed by Weberian/Taylorist “rationality,” is the tool you’re working with, you tend to be like someone with a big hammer who sees everything as a nail.
.. high-modernist ideologies like “professionalism” tend toward authoritarian hubris on the potential for social engineering. There are ways of reasoning with a political hack, based on self-interest. But how do you deal with a “disinterested professional” who sincerely believes she knows what’s best for you?
Entrepreneurship With Fiat Property and Fiat Money por Hans-Hermann Hoppe:
In this environment, it is imperative for every businessman to pay constant and close attention to politics. In order to stay alive and possibly prosper, he must spend time and effort to concern himself with matters that have nothing to do with satisfying consumers, but with power politics. And based on his understanding of the nature of the state and of politics, then, he must make a choice: a moral choice.
He can either join in and become a part of the vast criminal enterprise that is the State. He can bribe politicians, political parties or public officials, whether with cash or in-kind (including promises of future employment in the “private” sector as “board-members,” “advisors” or “consultants”), in order to gain for himself economic advantages at the expense of other businesses. That is, he can pay bribes to secure state contracts or subsidies for himself and at the exclusion of others. Or he can pay bribes for the passing or maintenance of legislation that secures him and his business legal privileges and monopoly profits (and capital gains) while partially expropriating and thus screwing his competitors. – Needless to say, countless businessmen have chosen this path. In particular big banking and big industry have thus become intricately involved in the state, and many a wealthy businessman has made his fortune more on account of his political skills than his abilities as a consumer-serving economic entrepreneur.
Or else: a businessman can choose the honorable but at the same time also the most difficult path. This businessman is aware of the nature of the state. He knows that the state and its operators are out to get him and bully him, to confiscate his property and money and, even worse, that they are arrogant, self-righteous, haughty, and full of themselves. Based on such understanding, this very different breed of businessman then tries his best to anticipate and adjust to the state’s every evil move. But he does not join the gang. He does not pay bribes to secure contracts or privileges from the state. Instead, he tries as well as he can to defend whatever is still left of his property and property rights and make as large profits as possible in doing so.
No seguimento de Intervenção de AMN (4),
Quanto é que os portugueses pagam pelo Serviço Público de Televisão?
Quanto é que os portugueses pagam pelo Serviço Público de Televisão?
Literature and the Search for Liberty por Mario Vargas Llosa:
Those who love liberty are often ridiculed for their idealism. And at times we can feel alone, as there appear to be very few dedicated to the ideals of true "liberalism."
What is lost on the collectivists .. is the prime importance of individual freedom for societies to flourish and economies to thrive. This is the core insight of true liberalism: All individual freedoms are part of an inseparable whole. Political and economic liberties cannot be bifurcated. Mankind has inherited this wisdom from millennia of experience, and our understanding has been enriched further by the great liberal thinkers, some of my favorites being Isaiah Berlin, Karl Popper, F.A. Hayek and Ludwig von Mises. They have described the path out of darkness and toward a brighter future of freedom and universal appreciation for the values of human dignity.
When the liberal truth is forgotten, we see the horrors of nationalist dictatorship, fascism, communism, cult fanaticism, terrorism and the many savageries that have defined all too much in the modern era ..
Many cling to hopes that the economy can be centrally planned. Education, health care, housing, money and banking, crime control, transportation, energy and far more follow the failed command-and-control model that has been repeatedly discredited. Some look to nationalist and statist solutions to trade imbalances and migration problems, instead of toward greater freedom.
Quarta-feira, Novembro 09, 2011
Ainda sobre a blogosfera de esquerda:
É interessante ir relembrando de vez em quando o que a esquerda foi dizendo sobre a crise da dívida soberana. Muitos ainda se lembrarão da petição pela despesa pública .. um ataque especulativo e que a Grécia tinha perfeita capacidade de cumprir as suas obrigações .. os bancos andarem a fazer dinheiro com a crise obtendo financiamento do BCE a taxas muito baixas para depois emprestarem aos estados a taxas mais elevadas ..
Perdidas as demagogias passadas, agora há uma nova: o de que o problema português é o da dívida privada, não a pública. Não se entende como é que sendo o problema a dívida privada, seja o estado quem mais tem dificuldades em se financiar. Mais ainda, que seja o estado a recorrer aos rendimentos dos privados para cobrir as suas dívidas. Afinal, se o problema é a dívida privada porque é que muitos privados conseguem financiar a compra de carro a uma taxa de juro mais baixa do que o estado português consegue financiar as suas despesas correntes? ..
Entretanto, na La-La-Land da extrema esquerda consegue-se escrever um texto em que se sublinha a evidência de Portugal ter que renegociar a sua dívida e ao mesmo tempo se defende a sustentabilidade do Estado Social. De desculpa em desculpa, de falácia em falácia, até ao desastre final.
In Defense of Zero Hedge (not that they care):
Is ZH completely biased toward the most negative outlooks and opinions possible in almost every single finance-related topic? Yes it is. But Tyler Durden & Co would never have been necessary in the first place had the regular "mainstream" media (I hate that term) been doing its job.
Zero Hedge provides a counter-balance to all the cheerleading, Jack Welch-worshiping, bank-captured bullshit that passes for modern "market coverage." As hyperbolic and at times misleading as ZH is to the dark side of things, isn't it merely giving us the opposite of all the skewed and misleadingly positive garbage we've been digesting over the years prior?
And perhaps the greatest testament to what ZH has done for us all these past few years is the new-found relentless skepticism of the traditional press .. In truth, everyone has adopted a little bit of Tyler Durden and I can't see that added bit of skepticism being such a bad thing.
If Zero Hedge didn't exist by now, we'd have to invent it. Not everything printed there need be 100% factually accurate in order for the site to fulfill the role that it does each day ...
Terça-feira, Novembro 08, 2011
Public Sector Workers: Living off Our Taxes:
There is nothing more frustrating than having to pay tax and national insurance so that public-sectors workers can earn more than you. People in the private sector face greater job insecurity and have less lavishly funded pension arrangements, .. yet they are the golden goose that has to be repeatedly slaughtered in order that state workers can have secure and higher-paid jobs with astonishingly generous pension provision.
The state and its supporters advance a number of justifications for high public spending .. “The public sector is a co-creator of wealth ..” .. This indicates that public-sector spending helps to create private-sector wealth, in a kind of symbiotic relationship.
.. public funds do not create that wealth, as, after all, those public funds are garnered in the first place from the private sector in the form of taxation, and so it is the private sector that is funding the infrastructure. It would be possible to design alternatives to publicly funded infrastructure provision. The fact is that the public sector has no money of its own that is not derived in some way from the private sector.
.. The state itself has become a pyramid scheme, justified by state programmes to boost equality. The result has become an increasingly inequitable job market .. We cannot afford to support this superstructure of hangers-on any more .. we need to axe entire programmes and/or restructure the state so that it functions in a simpler and less bureaucratic way. A nightwatchman state ought not to require such specialised employment. The shift required is as much cultural as economic. I can only hope upcoming economic difficulties force the state’s hand in terms of cutting deeper and restructuring further.
Of Bunk and Economics por Arnold Kling:
Suppose you could take an economist from Mars and show him the financial regulatory regime that existed in the United States in 1980 and the one that existed in 2000. Ask that economist which regime constituted turning the banks loose to do whatever they want. I am pretty sure that the answer would be that the 1980 regulatory regime was looser. Back then there were no formal capital requirements at all. In 2000, there were capital requirements that were "sophisticated" in the sense that they were risk-based. In 1980, there were fewer mechanisms in place for resolving failed banks. Deposit insurance prices were not linked to risk.
.. from a safety and soundness perspective, the regulatory regime of 2000 was the more stringent .. all the other chaps who blame the financial crisis on what is often called "the atmosphere of deregulation" are so beguiled by their righteous indignation that they do not seem to see any need to back up their rants with proof.
O miserável capitalismo português:
Certo dia António Guterres convidou-me para almoçar em São Bento. Às tantas perguntei-lhe se não o preocupava a presença do Estado na economia. O então 1º ministro vacilou e respondeu: "Sim, preocupa-me". E contou-me uma história: "Há dias tive aqui um grupo de empresários que queriam criar uma associação. Disse-lhes que achava muito bem. Mas no final da conversa um deles saiu-se com esta: "Precisamos que o Governo pague as instalações…".
É esta a face mais vergonhosa do nosso capitalismo: não sabe viver sem o Estado ..
O problema é que nada disto é novo: nas privatizações o Estado fez preços especiais aos empresários portugueses que depois venderam as empresas a estrangeiros, apropriando-se de enormes mais-valias; parte dos accionistas dos nossos bancos só o são porque compraram acções com dinheiro emprestado; quando se fala em criar condições para crescer, a primeira coisa que se ouve é "apoios do Estado", "linhas de crédito bonificadas", etc. Com exemplos destes o leitor surpreende-se com o estado do país? E está a ver qual é o maior problema estrutural da economia portuguesa?
No seguimento de Profits - Lucros, Profits in a Market Economy por Art Carden:
Contrary to public opinion, profits do not embody "exploitation" of laborers or customers. Profits embody information in the form of a lucrative reward for the entrepreneur or capitalist who is able to combine labor, capital goods, and other inputs in such a way as to produce an output that consumers value more highly than they value the inputs in another configuration.
Profits and losses ensure that in a market economy resources are allocated to their highest-valued uses by rewarding those who create wealth and by punishing those who destroy it. Contrast this with what would take place under a centralized system where there are no profits and losses.LEITURA ADICIONAL recomendada: Profit and Loss por Ludwig von Mises
State Capitalism, Wikipedia:
Mussolini denounced supercapitalism for causing the "standardization of humankind" and for causing excessive consumption. Mussolini claimed that at this stage of supercapitalism "is then that a capitalist enterprise, when difficulties arise, throws itself like a dead weight into the state's arms. It is then that state intervention begins and becomes more necessary. It is then that those who once ignored the state now seek it out anxiously." Due to the inability of businesses to operate properly when facing economic difficulties, Mussolini claimed that this proved that state intervention into the economy was necessary to stabilize the economy.
We would like to see communications, transport, energy and health renationalised and the state constructing houses which it then sells at cost to families.
Segunda-feira, Novembro 07, 2011
Remains Of Ancient Race Of Job Creators Found In Rust Belt (The Onion):
"It's truly fascinating—after spending a certain number of hours performing assigned tasks, the so-called 'employees' at such facilities would receive monetary compensation that allowed them to support themselves and their families," said archaeologist Alan H. Mueller, citing old ledgers and time-keeping devices unearthed at excavation sites in the region. "In fact, this practice seems to have been the norm for their culture, which consisted of advanced tool users capable of exploiting their skills to produce highly valued goods and services."
While stories have long been told of a great vanished race of job creators roaming the Midwest and providing employment to all able- bodied adults, historians said such accounts had previously been dismissed as apocryphal by the academic community.
Sexta-feira, Novembro 04, 2011
Everybody Hates Capitalism
Here is the foundation of our General Theory of Zombieism:
If they are poor, they implore the government to “tax the rich” and give the money to the poor. If they are rich, they want the government to protect their wealth and status – with every means available to them. Democratic governments generally do both. They support the poor with loud attacks on the rich combined with whimpers of money (for the poor can generally be bought – vote for vote – much cheaper than the rich). As for the rich, their support is more subtle and underhanded. There are tax credits and loopholes for anyone who can afford them; sugar-laden contracts for the insiders and plenty of jobs for well-credentialized blowhards.
- All (or almost all) people want wealth, power and status.
- They want to get it in the easiest way possible.
- The easiest way to get wealth is to steal it, which is why all groups turn to the government, the only institution which gets to steal lawfully.
- Over time, more and more groups are able to use the system for their own ends.
The rich complain about the poor. The poor complain about the rich. Both complain about the government. And everybody hates capitalism.
But over time, the giveaways, bribes, regulations, intercessions and meddling on the part of the government have a big effect on the economy. The more the government interferes with market signals and market-based capital allocation, the less able the economy is to produce real wealth. More and more resources are purloined by the insiders before the truck reaches its destination. Paperwork, lawyers, administration, regulation, taxes take a toll. So does misallocation of capital investment to huge, unproductive industries such as education, health, and defense. There is also a shift of wealth generally from those who earn it to those to whom it is redistributed…and from capital formation to consumption. And gradually the economy becomes paralyzed and parasitic…and nearly everyone gets poorer.
Ten Reasons Not to Abolish Slavery:
2. Slavery has always existed. This reason exemplifies the logical fallacy argumentum ad antiquitatem (the argument to antiquity or tradition). Nevertheless, it often persuaded people, especially those of conservative bent.
4. The slaves are not capable of taking care of themselves .. It would be cruel to set free people who would then, at best, fall into destitution and suffering.
9. Trying to get rid of slavery is foolishly utopian and impractical; only a fuzzy-headed dreamer would advance such a cockamamie proposal. Serious people cannot afford to waste their time considering such farfetched ideas.
10. Forget abolition. A far better plan is to keep the slaves sufficiently well fed, clothed, housed, and occasionally entertained and to take their minds off their exploitation by encouraging them to focus on the better life that awaits them in the hereafter. We cannot expect fairness or justice in this life, but all of us, including the slaves, can aspire to a life of ease and joy in Paradise.
Today these reasons or very similar ones are used by opponents of a different form of abolitionism: the proposal that government as we know it — monopolistic, individually nonconsensual rule by an armed group that demands obedience and payment of taxes — be abolished.
Líbia. ONU tinha tudo preparado para distinguir Kadhafi como defensor dos direitos humanos:
Pouco tempo antes de a NATO ter começado a bombardear a Líbia, as Nações Unidas estavam a preparar-se para distinguir o coronel Muammar Kadhafi pelos feitos notáveis na área dos direitos humanos. Ou seja, o mesmo homem, que a Aliança Atlântica e os Estados Unidos classificaram como um “ditador brutal” que massacrava o seu próprio povo era afinal um defensor dos direitos do seu povo.
De acordo com o relatório da 16ª sessão do Conselho de Direitos Humanos das Nações Unidas, datado de 4 de Janeiro de 2011, “a protecção dos direitos humanos era garantida na Líbia; isto inclui não só direitos políticos mas também económicos, sociais e culturais”. O documento vai mais longe e fala da “experiencia pioneira no campo da distribuição da riqueza e nos direitos de trabalho”.
A delegação da ONU que visitou a Líbia “observou que todos os direitos e liberdades” estavam, na Líbia, “incluídos de forma coerente num quadro jurídico consolidado. As garantias legais formaram a base para a protecção dos direitos básicos do povo. Além disso, os abusos que pudessem ocorrer eram tratados pelo sistema judicial e os responsáveis levados à justiça. O sistema judicial salvaguardava os direitos dos indivíduos e era apoiado por outras entidades, acima de tudo o gabinete do Ministério Público.”
Michael Krieger Explains Why It Takes Only 5 Minutes:
.. Nothing has changed and absolutely nothing has been accomplished. There is no “solution” to the crisis that will not result in massive pain, confusion and wealth decimation. The reason is patently obvious. At least half the continent is completely and helplessly bankrupt. There are only two outcomes to the entire situation. Either the sovereign debts are written off aggressively and the banking system declared insolvent and restructured or the ECB decides to turn on those printing presses to the tune of trillions and destroys the purchasing power of the union in Zimbabwe-like fashion ..
Remember, there is a very good reason that no “definitive solution” has been announced. There is none. What the Eurocrats are trying to do is pretend that lifelines to bankrupt nations will be enough to tide them over until strong growth allows them to wiggle out of the problems. This has already been proven a failure after they tried it last year as Greece is now worse than ever. So there are two choices and no one can be totally certain which outcome it will be but either one will result in massive wealth destruction.
The first choice is the one I prefer (hard defaults and a declaration of insolvency of the banking system followed by restructuring) because it will place the majority of the losses and pain on the elites that led us to this ruin and who own most of the financial assets in the world. The second option (massive inflation and loss of purchasing power) will kill the poor and middle classes as well as the wealthy but financially illiterate. The ruling oligarchs will be fine (until the masses come for their heads) as they understand what they are doing and will move to protect their assets. Since the same criminal, crooked and morally bankrupt financial oligarchy is still pulling the strings worldwide you have to assume they will opt for choice number two, although unforeseen social and political events could throw a wrench into their twisted plans. Gold is the only asset that should outperform in either scenario.
Via Philipp Bagus:
Artificial low interest rates. Official mandate: price inflation below 2 %. Official price inflation at 3%. YOu would expect an increase in interest rates if price stability is be the goal. But Draghi actually lowers interest rates to save his banking friends and the political project of the euro. Run if you can.
Quarta-feira, Novembro 02, 2011
No Congresso dos US — Looks like Congress has declared war on the internet:
.. the Stop Online Piracy Act, introduced in the House this week, would give governments and private corporations unprecedented powers to remove websites from the internet on the flimsiest of grounds, and would force internet service providers to play the role of copyright police.
The bottom line is that if it passes and becomes law, the new act would give the government and copyright holders a giant stick — if not an automatic weapon — with which to pursue websites and services they believe are infringing on their content. With little or no requirement for a court hearing, they could remove websites from the internet and shut down their ability to be found by search engines or to process payments from users. DMCA takedown notices would effectively be replaced by this nuclear option, and innocent websites would have to fight to prove that they deserved to be restored to the internet — a reversal of the traditional American judicial approach of being assumed innocent until proven guilty — at which point any business they had would be destroyed.Professors’ Letter in Opposition to “Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011” (PROTECT-IP Act of 2011, S. 968):
In conclusion, passage of the Act will compromise ourability to defend the principle of the single global Internet – the Internet that looks thesame to, and allows free and unfettered communication between, users located inBoston and Bucharest, free of locally-imposed censorship regimes. As such, it mayrepresent the biggest threat to the Internet in its history.
My dad taught me cashflow with a soda machine — uma história gira:
The vending machine didn’t magically make me want to be an entrepreneur. I wanted to be a video game designer, then an engineer, then a video game designer again, and then an academic.
But when I stumbled into the startup world two decades later, the dots began to connect. Cashflow wasn’t a new concept. Inventory tradeoffs made a bit of sense.
Attention Media: Occupy Wall Street Protesters Are World's Richest One Percent:
In America, the top 1% earn more than $380,000 per year. We are, however, among the richest nations on Earth. How much do you need to earn to be among the top 1% of the world?
In short, most of those protesting in the Occupy Wall Street movement would be considered wealthy -- perhaps extraordinarily wealthy -- by much of the world. Many of those protesting the 1% are, ironically, the 1%.
Um excelente artigo do Filipe Faria n'O Insurgente — Surpresa: A Grécia Ainda é um País Soberano. Excertos:
As elites eurocratas e demais comentadores eurófilos estão indignados: “como é possível que o PM grego tenha colocado um assunto tão importante à mercê da população?” dizem eles. Esta pergunta sustenta-se pela sua crença de que a Grécia já não é um país soberano em que os seus cidadãos tomam as decisões que quiserem, mas sim que a Grécia é já um protectorado da UE e que se tem de comportar como tal para não colocar em perigo o projecto de Jean Monnet e companhia.
Não há saída indolor deste processo de dívida indomável; os custos do processo são incalculáveis. Dizer que esta ou aquela solução terá maiores ou menores custos é sempre um exercício especulativo (que normalmente revela o grau de eurofilia do especulador). Contudo, o que não é especulativo é que ao dizerem que não neste referendo os gregos podem recuperar a liberdade para organizarem (ou desorganizarem) a sua casa como querem, sem imposição externa e sem depender de fundos de contribuintes de países terceiros. Se os gregos querem contrair dívida, fugir aos impostos ou comprar carros de luxo a rodos é algo que a eles lhes diz respeito, desde que internalizem as consequências. É esse o preço da responsabilidade que é indissociável da liberdade.
Visible Projects, Hidden Destruction:
With "public works" viewed primarily as a means of "providing employment," explained Hazlitt, an endless array of projects will be "invented" by the government. The "usefulness" of the final product or the likeliness of success of a project, whether it's a bridge to nowhere or a bankrupt solar-panel company, "inevitably becomes a subordinate consideration."
In fact, once creating jobs is viewed as the chief purpose of government spending, said Hazlitt, a project with more waste and more inefficiency in its implementation, and less labor productivity, will be viewed as superior to a less wasteful project. The "more wasteful the work, the more costly in manpower," he explained, "the better it becomes for the purpose of providing more employment."
A key fallacy in this thinking, Hazlitt explained, is that it ignores the incomes, the wealth, and the jobs that are "destroyed by the taxes imposed to pay for that spending." What's visible is the new school or new road, but what is unseen are those things that were lost through higher taxation, the unbuilt homes and unbuilt cars that don't exist because of the money that was redistributed away from those who earned it in order to pay for inefficient make-work projects. What is unseen are the unbuilt stores and unbuilt factories, the uninvested funds and the new enterprises that would have been created.
What Business Can Learn from Organized Crime (HBR):
In some cases, criminal enterprises are now the ones pushing the frontiers of knowledge and innovation. Given the high profitability of global cybercrime networks and the limited threat they face from legal authorities, legitimate businesses will undoubtedly become targets more frequently. Managers need to pay close attention to the tactics being used against them—and perhaps even learn to profit from some of the global gangsters’ insights.Leitura interessante.