Mar 29, 2017

Irving Fisher endorses presidential candidate Herbert Hoover (1928)

Mr. Hoover is a practical economist and one to whom is due more largely than to any other one man improvement in our prosperity...  Mr. Hoover knows as few men do the terrible evils of inflation and deflation, and the need of avoiding both if business and agriculture are to be stabilized.

~ Irving Fisher, July 29, 1928

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Mar 26, 2017

Daniel Kahneman on the spreading falsehoods

A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth.  Authoritarian institutions and marketers have always known this fact.

~ Daniel Kahneman

Mar 22, 2017

Doug Pollitt on the U.S. government bond market

If you are a creditor, the last person you want to see on the other side of the table is Donald Trump.

~ Doug Pollitt, "And the dull pangs of regret...," Pollitt & Co. Research, November 16, 2016

Mar 17, 2017

Kevin Duffy on how Milton Friedman was guilty of data mining when studying the Great Depression

Milton Friedman studied the Great Depression and noticed that money supply dropped by one-third from 1929-1933.  He came to the conclusion that this was the cause of the depression and that the Fed hadn't acted strongly enough.  He also influenced a guy by the name of Ben Bernanke who, at Friedman’s 90th birthday party, vowed not to make the same “mistake.” 

Did the Fed really sit bit idly as Friedman claimed?  Actually, no.  The Fed acted aggressively, buying government securities and expanding its balance sheet from 1929-1933.  It also lowered the discount rate from 5% to 1 ½%.  Friedman appears to be guilty of data mining.  Correlation doesn’t prove causation.  In fact, gold flows and loss of confidence in banks were contributing factors to the contraction in money supply.  If anything, the monetary inflation of the Fed probably made matters worse.

~ Kevin Duffy, "Mr. Market Flunks the Marshmallow Test," Grant's Spring Conference, March 15, 2017

Mar 12, 2017

Kevin Duffy on the elitist bubble

The financial elites think the masses are ignorant rubes who show up late for every asset party.  Yet it is the elites who are most economically ignorant -- the ultimate bag holders this cycle.

~ Kevin Duffy

Mar 9, 2017

~ Joseph Sobran on the two economies

As I see it now, there are really two economies — two distinct systems of producing and exchanging wealth.  Or rather, two systems that purport to do these things, though only one of them really produces anything, and the other is organized by a peculiar form of exchange.

The first is what is called the trade economy — the one summed up in the phrase "the free market."  The other might be called "the tax economy."

The trade economy is so familiar there is no need to say much about it, beyond pointing out that its operative principle is consent.  Its mechanism is the price system.

The tax economy is something fairly new—to America anyway.  A few generations ago the amount of wealth taken in taxes was only a sliver of the country's aggregate wealth.  But the government's share has increased to such an extent that it has become a whole separate economy.

~ Joseph Sobran, "The Two Economies," The Free Market, January 1991

Joseph Sobran on greed and the state

The state is never accused of greed.  There is no limit to what it may take from us. And those who live on what is taken in taxes are never accused of greed either.  Greed is virtually identified with the "profit motive." We have no invidious term for the parasitic motive.  The state and its clients are all but immune from moral criticism.

~ Joseph Sobran, "The Two Economies," The Free Market, January 1991

Mar 5, 2017

Business Week economist on government spending to fight the Great Depression

Just as we saved our way into depression, we must squander our way out of it.

~ Virgil Jordon, Business Week economist, 1932

Ralph Hawtrey on the American experiment of stabilizing the price level

The American experiment in stabilization from 1922 to 1928 showed that early treatment could shake a tendency either to inflation or to depression in a few months, before any serious damage had been done.  The American experiment was a great advance upon the practice of the 19th century.

~ Ralph G. Hawtrey, British Treasury's Director of Financial Studies, The Art of Central Banking (1932), p. 300

(Murray Rothbard describes Hawtrey as "one of the evil geniuses of the 1920s" in America's Great Depression, p. 159.)

Ludwig von Mises on indoctrination in public schools vs. popular culture

On the high school level and even on the college level the handing down of historical and economic knowledge is virtually indoctrination.  The greater part of the students are certainly not mature enough to form their own opinion on the ground of a critical examination of their teachers' representation of the subject.

If public education were more efficient than it really is, the political parties would urgently aim at the domination of the school system in order to determine the mode in which these subjects are to be taught.  However, general education plays only a minor role in the formation of the political, social, and economic ideas of the rising generation. The impact of the press, the radio, and environmental conditions is much more powerful than that of teachers and textbooks.  The propaganda of the churches, the political parties, and the pressure groups outstrips the influence of the schools, whatever they may teach.  What is learned in school is often very soon forgotten and cannot carry on against the continuous hammering of the social milieu in which a man moves.

~ Ludwig von Mises, Human Action, pp. 877-878

Mar 4, 2017

Warren Buffett fails to see any bubble behavior (2017)

It's not like during the internet boom or – and there have been various real peaks – I've written a couple of times when I thought things were getting out of hand on the high side. And-that's not now. Now, if interest rates dramatically upward, then these valuations would come down, in my view. But I don't see the games being played on a big scale that you had in the late '60s or that you had around the internet time, you know. I don't see lots of just fallacies being promoted. Or games being built on accounting tricks and that sort of thing.

~ Warren Buffett, CNBC interview, February 27, 2017

Warren Buffett on the difference between a diplomat and a lady

If a diplomat says yes, he means maybe. If he says maybe, he means no. And if he says no, he's no diplomat. And if a lady says no, she means maybe. And if she says maybe, she means yes. And if she says yes, she's no lady.

~ Warren Buffett

Mar 3, 2017

Kevin Duffy on the difference between slavery and government

200 years ago slavery was rationalized on the basis chaos would ensue without it. Today government is rationalized on the same basis. How will we be judged in 200 years?

~ Kevin Duffy

Mar 2, 2017

E.A. Blair on intellectuals

Some ideas are so stupid only intellectuals believe them.

 ~ E.A. Blair