Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Hollywood vs. Reality

I'm not a fan of the NRO, but I did enjoy this article debunking Hollywood's view of business.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Boy Solves 300 year old Physics Problem

This is an inspirational story.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Shrugging in France

I found this to be an interesting story about French entrepreneurs leaving the country (haussant les épaules as it were). In my opinion, the story does a good job of highlighting the spiritual attacks on wealth creators, as much as the material ones (i.e. taxes).

It serves as a good reminder of what happens when we fail to practice the virtue of justice, particularly the aspect of  not only financially rewarding the good, but also of praising and esteeming it.

Here's the story's lead:
Jeremie Le Febvre, the 30-year-old founder of private equity marketing-services firm TBG Capital Advisors, plans to move to Singapore from Paris this year.
Not because of President-elect Francois Hollande’s pledge to boost taxes; rather for what Hollande’s victory says about how wealth is viewed in France, the entrepreneur said.
“What’s really driving my departure is the fact that I don’t share the values that emerged during the election, the rejection of ambition and success,” he said in an interview. “It’s part of France’s difficult relationship with money, but it has reached a new level. Even if it’s utopian, I need to believe for me and my descendants that the sky is the limit.”
France, the fifth-richest country and home to some of the world’s wealthiest people, including LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA Chief Executive Officer Bernard Arnault, doesn’t celebrate its affluent. Hollande, a Socialist who once said “I don’t like the rich,” and who plans to slap a 75 percent tax on income of more than 1 million euros ($1.29 million), reinforces the sentiment that in France to be rich is not glorious.
“Hollande is using the 75 percent tax as a symbol to convey certain values through stigmatization,” Le Febvre said.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Union Power

I'm a big proponent of allowing anyone to use their property in any (non-rights-violating) manner they desire, including for political speech, but I think this tidbit from a City Journal article on the California Teacher's Association might give pause to some of my opponents on this point:
According to figures from the California Fair Political Practices Commission (a public institution) in 2010, the CTA had spent more than $210 million over the previous decade on political campaigning—more than any other donor in the state. In fact, the CTA outspent the pharmaceutical industry, the oil industry, and the tobacco industry combined.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Regulating Julia

I think this Forbes post, which is meant to rebut the notorious Julia video, does a good job of showing in concrete terms how the government prevents people from producing and therefore from taking care of themselves.  Well worth reading.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

The EPA's Crucifiers

This is a frightening story, partially for its insight into the psyche of the Obama administration, but even more so as an example of how far the so-called unelected alphabet agencies can go in violating individual rights.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Possible Precedent for Pension Plans

Wonder what might happen with all the underfunded state and municipal pension plans.  This case may be worth following.  As the first line of the article states and the rest of the article expands on: "In what's believed to be a first by a public pension plan, the Northern Mariana Islands Retirement Fund, Saipan, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Tuesday."

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Comments to the Fed

Apparently the NY Fed invited some third party economists, including real critics, to offer comments to the Fed. Although I'm not sure if these have much impact (at least short term), the two that were brought to my attention were a joy to read.

 Jim Grant's (former Barron's columnist) includes these two passages:
Many now call for more regulation— more such institutions as the Treasury’s brand-new Office of Financial Research, for instance. In the March 8 Financial Times, the columnist Gillian Tett appealed for more resources for the overwhelmed regulators. Inundated with information, she lamented, they can’t keep up with the institutions they are supposed to be safeguarding. To me, the trouble is not that the regulators are ignorant. It’s rather that the owners and managers are unaccountable.

Once upon a time—specifically, between the National Banking Act of 1863 and the Banking Act of 1935—the impairment or bankruptcy of a nationally chartered bank triggered a capital call. Not on the taxpayers, but on the stockholders. It was their bank, after all. Individual accountability in banking was the rule in the advanced economies. Hartley Withers, the editor of The Economist in the early 20th century, shook his head at the micromanagement of American banks by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency—25% of their deposits had to be kept in cash, i.e., gold or money lawfully convertible into gold. The rules held. Yet New York had panics, London had none. Adjured Withers: “Good banking is produced not by good laws but by good bankers.”


There isn’t time, in these brief remarks, to persuade you of the necessity of a return to the classical gold standard. I would need another 10 minutes, at least. But I anticipate some skepticism. Very well then, consider this fact: On March 27, 1973, not quite 39 years ago, the forerunner to today’s G-20 solemnly agreed that the special drawing right, a.k.a. SDR, “will become the principal reserve asset and the role of gold and reserve currencies will be reduced.” That was the establishment— i.e., you—talking. If a worldwide accord on the efficacy of the SDR is possible, all things are possible, including a return to the least imperfect international monetary standard that has ever worked.

Notice, I do not say the perfect monetary system or best monetary system ever dreamt up by a theoretical economist. The classical gold standard, 1879-1914, “with all its anomalies and exceptions . . . ‘worked.’” The quoted words I draw from a book entitled, “The Rules of the Game: Reform and Evolution in the International Monetary System,” by Kenneth W. Dam, a law professor and former provost of the University of Chicago. Dam’s was a grudging admiration, a little like that of the New York Fed’s own Arthur Bloomfield, whose 1959 monograph, “Monetary Policy under the International Gold Standard,” was published by yourselves. No, Bloomfield points out, as does Dam, the classical gold standard was not quite automatic. But it was synchronous, it was self-correcting and it did deliver both national solvency and, over the long run, uncanny price stability. The banks were solvent, too, even the central banks, which, as Bloomfield noted, monetized no government debt.

The visible hallmark of the classical gold standard was, of course, gold—to every currency holder was given the option of exchanging metal for paper, or paper for metal, at a fixed, statutory rate. Exchange rates were fixed, and I mean fixed. “It is quite remarkable,” Dam writes, “that from 1879 to 1914, in a period considerably longer than from 1945 to the demise of Bretton Woods in 1971, there were no changes of parities between the United States, Britain, France, Germany—not to speak of a number of smaller European countries.” The fruits of this fixedness were many and sweet. Among them, again to quote Dam, “a flow of private foreign investment on a scale the world had never seen, and, relative to other economic aggregates, was never to see again.”
The second, by Robert Wenzel, isn't as well written, but it's more radical calling for the abolishment of the Fed.