Mar 31, 2009

Lew Rockwell on Burt Blumert

Burt had a way of maintaining a refreshing distance, remembering what is important and bringing humor to lighten the moment so that others could discern what really matters.

~ Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.

(Video tribute to Burton S. Blumert, 1929-2009)

Burt Blumert on forecasting Armageddon

It's OK to forecast the end of the world, but don't ever give a date.

~ Burton S. Blumert, 1929-2009

(Burt Blumert, a close friend of Murray Rothbard and benefactor of the Mises Institute, passed away of cancer on March 30, 2009. Rest in peace, Burt. You will be greatly missed.)

Mar 30, 2009

Harold S. Kushner on theories of life's quests

Terrible as it was, [Victor Frankl's] experience in Auschwitz reinforced what was already one of his key ideas: Life is not primarily a quest for pleasure, as Freud believed, or a quest for power, as Alfred Adler taught, but a quest for meaning. The greatest task for any person is to find meaning in his of her life. Frankl saw three possible sources for meaning: in work (doing something significant), in love (caring for another person), and in courage during difficult times.

~ Harold S. Kushner, Man's Search For Meaning, Foreword, p. x

Mar 29, 2009

Victor E. Frankl on success and happiness

[S]uccess, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one's dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one's surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it.

~ Victor E. Frankl, Man's Search For Meaning, Preface to the 1992 Edition, pp. xiv-xv

Mar 28, 2009

Gene Epstein sees the economy bottoming in Q2 (2009)

The only way to tell if the recent rebound in stocks is truly signaling recovery is to look at supporting data. And those data continue to suggest a bottoming in the economy by the second quarter, which would then turn out to have been duly anticipated by a bottom in the stock market in early March, the first quarter's final month.

~ Gene Epstein, "The Bottom Is in Sight," Barron's, March 30, 2009

Mar 26, 2009

Bill Bonner on modern day depressions

We repeat: there were only two examples of major depressions in the last century. Both came after a huge run-up in debt. And both were met with programs that economists should be ashamed of – bailouts, stimulus, loans, props, safety nets and hooks. In both cases – the ’30s in the United States and the ’90s in Japan – the depressions continued, on and off, for many years. WWII brought an end to the first one – 12 years after it began. The second one continues – nearly 20 years after the crash of the Tokyo stock market.

And now we have a third one…and this time the feds are determined to beat it. What’s their strategy? More firepower! What’s their secret weapon? QE, or quantitative easing, which is actual monetary inflation caused by buying debt directly from the government.

Will it work? Will Geithner/Bernanke succeed where others failed? Will economists finally master depressions…and find a way to get “creative” without the destruction?

Ah…we think we know the answer. But in the meantime, we’re enjoying the show.

~ Bill Bonner, "Get Set for a 15-Year Depression," LewRockwell.com, March 26, 2009

Mar 25, 2009

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on bank bailout

Congressman this plan will work. This plan because of the authority provided not just by Congress but the treasury and the Fed gives us broad ability to do what you need to do to get through a financial crisis like this. It just requires will; It's not about ability. We just need to keep at it. We just need to work with Congress to make sure we do this on a scale that will make it work.

~ Treasury Secretary Geithner speaking to Congress, Bloomberg TV, March 23, 2009

Mar 24, 2009

Ernest Hemingway on inflation and war

The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring a permanent ruin. But both are the refuge of political and economic opportunists.

~ Ernest Hemingway

Mar 23, 2009

AIG executive on the company's credit default swap exposure (2007)

It is hard for us, without being flippant, to even see a scenario within any kind of realm of reason that would see us losing one dollar in any of those transactions.

~ Joseph J. Cassano, head of AIG Fincancial Products division, August 2007

Mar 22, 2009

John Chambers on the stimulus package

The government is doing the right thing with the stimulus package. Clearly, when others aren't spending, the public sector needs to help lead the way. The U.S. has a real opportunity to redefine how technology is used in areas like health care and education.

~ John Chambers, CEO, Cisco Systems, "The $2.5 Trillion Question," Conde Nast Portfolio, April 2009

Wayne Gretzky on risk taking

You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take.

~ Wayne Gretzky

Mar 21, 2009

Paul Krugman on the Fed's plan to buy $1 trillion of long-term agency and government bonds

The big policy news this week has been the Fed’s decision to buy $1 trillion of long-term bonds, going beyond the normal policy of buying only short-term debt. Good move — but it’s probably worth pointing out that yes, this does expose the Fed, and indirectly the taxpayer, to some risks. And in so doing, it blurs the line between fiscal and monetary policy.

Now, the Fed isn’t taking on any serious default risk — Treasuries are backed by the full faith etc of the US government, and agency debt is de facto backed by the same, although the market doesn’t seem to believe that. Anyway, the Fed is for these purposes a government agency itself, so all this is debt between different parts of USG.

The Fed is, however, creating a new liability: the monetary base it creates to buy these bonds. In effect, it’s printing $1 trillion of money, and using those funds to buy bonds. Is this inflationary? We hope so! The whole reason for quantitative easing is that normal monetary expansion, printing money to buy short-term debt, has no traction thanks to near-zero rates. Gaining some traction — in effect, having some inflationary effect — is what the policy is all about.

~ Paul Krugman, "Fiscal aspects of quantitative easing (wonkish)," New York Times, March 20, 2009

Mar 19, 2009

Sung Won Sohn on the Fed's decision to spend up to $300 billion over the next six months to buy long-term government bonds

This is going to help everybody. This might help the Fed put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

~ Sung Won Sohn, economist at the Martin Smith School of Business at California State University, "Fed launches $1.2 trillion bid to revive economy," msnbc.com, March 19, 2008

Mar 7, 2009

Margit von Mises on her husband's concern about a great crash coming in the late 1920s

One day Lu told me he had been offered a high position at the Credit Anstalt, the foremost banking institution in Vienna, but that he had decided not to accept it. When I asked him the reason for his refusal, he told me that a great ‘crash’ would be coming and that he did not want his name in any way connected with it. He preferred to write and teach.

~ Margit von Mises, My Years With Ludwig von Mises, pp. 23-24.

Lew Rockwell on socialism and mass murder

[Socialism] was tried in the 20th century. It produced economic stagnation and despair. In its purest form, it extinguished more than one hundred million people.

— Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr., “Beating Back ObamanomicsLewRockwell.com, March 6, 2009

Mar 3, 2009

Obama calls bottom in stocks

What you’re now seeing is profit and earning ratios are starting to get to the point where buying stocks is a potentially good deal, if you’ve got a long-term perspective on it.

~ President Barack Obama, "Obama Says Now May Be Good Time to Invest in Stocks," Bloomberg, March 3, 2009