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Tag Archives: Basic Reports

Motte and Bailey Fallacy, Report 13 Oct

This week, we will delve into something really abstract. Not like monetary economics, which is so simple even a caveman can do it. A Clever Ruse We refer to a clever rhetorical trick. It’s when someone makes a broad and important assertion, in very general terms. But when challenged, the assertion is switched for one that is entirely uncontroversial but also narrow and unimportant. The trick is intended to foreclose debate of the broad assertion, not really to retreat to the narrow one. The...

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A Wealth Tax Consumes Capital, Report 6 Oct

It seems one cannot make a name for one’s self on the Left, unless one has a proposal to tax wealth. Academics like Tomas Piketty have proposed it. And now the Democratic candidates for president in the US propose it too, while Jeremy Corbyn proposes it in the UK. Venezuela finally added a wealth tax in July. A Wealth Tax So how does a wealth tax work? The politicians quibble among themselves, as if the little implementation details that differ between them are important. But they share the...

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The Purchasing Power of Capital, Report 29 Sep

We discuss capital consumption all the time, because it is the megatrend of our era. However, capital consumption is an abstract idea. So let’s consider some concrete examples, to help make it clearer. Flipping Homes, Consuming Capital First, let’s look at the case of Timothy Housetrader. Tim has a small two-bedroom house. Next door, his neighbor Ian Idjit, owns a four-bedroom house which is twice the size. For some reason, Ian offers to trade houses with Tim. Both own their houses free and...

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Treasury Bond Backwardation, Report 22 Sep

Something happened in the credit market this week. A Barron’s article about it began: “There have been disruptions in the plumbing of U.S. markets this week. While the process of fixing them was bumpy, it was more of a technical mishap than a cause for investor concern.” Keep Calm and Carry On So, before they tell us what happened, they tell us it’s just plumbing, it’s been fixed, and that we should not be concerned. The article asserts that the reasons for the problem: “…are technical and...

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Why Are People Now Selling Their Silver? Report 15 Sep

This week, the prices of the metals fell further, with gold -$18 and silver -$0.73. On May 28, the price of silver hit its nadir, of $14.30. From the last three days of May through Sep 4, the price rose to $19.65. This was a gain of $5.35, or +37%. Congratulations to everyone who bought silver on May 28 and who sold it on Sep 4. To those who believe gold and silver are money (as we do) the rising price of silver may seem right as rain. Why shouldn’t the dollar go down? It’s a rubbish...

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How Is Negative Interest Possible? Report 8 Sep

Germany has recently joined Switzerland in the dubious All Negative Club. The interest rate on every government bond, from short to 30 years, is now negative. Many would say “congratulations”, in the belief that this proves their credit risk is … well … umm … negative(?) And anyways, it will let them borrow more to spend on consumption which will stimulate … umm… well… all of the wasteful consumption for which governments are rightly infamous. While those who are about to borrow may find...

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Asset Inflation vs. Consumer Goods Inflation, Report 1 Sep

A paradigm is a mental framework. It has a both a positive pressure and a negative filter. It structures one’s thoughts, orients them in a certain direction, and rules out certain ideas. Paradigms can be very useful, for example the scientific method directs one to begin with facts, explain them in a consistent way, and to ignore peyote dreams from the smoke lodge and claims of mental spoon-bending. However, a paradigm can also prevent one from discovering an important new truth. This occurs...

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Directive 10-289, Report 25 Aug

Everyone must ask himself the question. Do you want the world to move to an honest money system, or do you just want gold to go up (we italicize discussion of apparent moves in gold, because it’s the dollar that’s moving down—not gold going up—but we sometimes frame it in mainstream terms). Gold’s Going Up We have written about the tension between these two goals before. Many people start with the former. They come to gold, as they begin to realize that the dollar is going off the rails, that...

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Deflation Is Everywhere—If You Know Where to Look, Report 18 Aug

At a shopping mall recently, we observed an interesting deal at Sketchers. If you buy two pairs of shoes, the second is 30% off. Sketchers has long offered deals like this (sometimes 50% off). This is a sign of deflation. Regular readers know to wait for the punchline. Manufacturer Gives Away Its Margins We do not refer merely to the fact that there is a discount. We are not simply arguing that Sketchers are sold cheaper—hence deflation. That is not our approach. Let’s look beneath the...

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The Economic Singularity, Report 11 Aug

We have recently written several essays about the fallacious concept of Gross Domestic Product. Among GDP’s several fatal flaws, it goes up when capital is converted to consumer goods, when seed corn is served at the feast. So we proposed—and originally dismissed—the idea of a national balance sheet. It’s easy (conceptually) to add up all the assets and the liabilities. But the problem is that the falling interest rate pushes up asset prices. Even if one booked assets at their original...

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