di Bill Bonner
È una bellissima giornata qui in Irlanda.
Una buona giornata per l'inaugurazione della nostra nuova sede all'estero – un palazzo in stile classico che è stato costruito da una famiglia locale di commercianti nel 1860.
Più tardi daremo un breve discorso, ringraziando tutti gli interessati... berremo un paio di bicchieri di vino... sperando di non aver commesso un grosso errore.
Abbiamo investito – pesantemente – nel palazzo, dove avremo ben 200 dipendenti.
Rappresenta capitale... accumulato nel corso degli ultimi 35 anni... che ora è ancorato in un angolo dimenticato di un paese straniero.
Non rappresenta "soldi in banca." E non è denaro nel mercato azionario. Non può sfuggire a tasse elevate. Non può elargire un tasso di rendimento più alto.
È qui... su questa piccola isola, soggetto alle maree della politica e degli affari, incapace di proteggersi da entrambi.
Gli investimenti di capitale a lungo termine (saranno necessari 20 anni per vedere un ritorno) hanno bisogno di tempo. E questa prerogativa porta con sé rischi.
Ecco perché esistono i tassi d'interesse sul capitale prestato... e perché i tassi d'interesse negativi reali sono impossibili. O fraudolenti.
Il tempo porta crisi, problemi, sfide, battute d'arresto... e il processo triste dell'invecchiamento, dei guasti e del decadimento.
Col tempo, tutto scompare. Siamo sicuri, per esempio, che non ci vorrà molto tempo prima che il mercato imploda.
I profitti delle imprese sono in calo. Il PIL sta affondando. La produttività è in discesa per il periodo più lungo sin dagli anni '70.
E secondo il rapporto CAPE, che prende in esame i prezzi delle azioni relativi agli ultimi 10 anni di profitti, solo tre volte negli ultimi 100 anni (nel 1929, nel 2000 e nel 2007) le azioni stato così costose.
Il crack, quando arriverà, produrrà nuove esigenze di stimolo fiscale e denaro dagli elicotteri.
Tanto per essere chiari, lo stimolo fiscale lo ritroviamo nel debito pubblico e nella spesa pubblica. Lo ritroviamo, quindi, nel deficit pubblico.
Il cosiddetto "elicottero monetario" è spesa pubblica finanziata direttamente dalla creazione di moneta da parte della banca centrale. Nemmeno un dollaro viene aggiunto al deficit pubblico.
Sono molto simili; ciò che conta è il modo in cui sono finanziati.
La prossima recessione provocherà richieste per una spesa per progetti infrastrutturali. Questi saranno accompagnati da stime sul quando tali progetti restituiranno qualcosa di concreto.
I numeri sono una pura assurdità. Senza un costo reale del capitale e un modo per prezzare la produzione o capire il profitto di un progetto, tutti i calcoli sono pura finzione.
Ma stiamo divagando...
Fin qui tutto bene. Se vincerà Hillary, non cambierà nulla.
Se vincerà Trump, non cambierà nulla. Ma potrebbe scuotere gli investitori.
Chi lo sa?
Una delle cose più difficili da capire circa la nostra situazione attuale è il modo in cui le cose non sono quello che sembrano.
Abbiamo scritto spesso su come il denaro sia fasullo. Come i tassi d'interesse siano fasulli. Come le statistiche siano fasulle. (Prendete in considerazione il "tasso di disoccupazione"... per favore!)
Anche le nostre "guerre" sono fasulle. Quando i federali annunciano una nuova guerra, diamo naturalmente per scontato che il loro obiettivo sia quello di battere il nemico.
Non è così. Al contrario, vogliono che la guerra continui. Ciò significa NON sconfiggere il nemico. In questo modo ENTRAMBE le parti vincono.
La Guerra alla Povertà è stata la prima delle nostre false "guerre". È stata una bella collusione tra i poveri ed un intero settore – 92 programmi statali – i quali hanno ricevuto e speso soldi.
Dichiarata nel 1964, la Guerra alla Povertà è già costata $22,000 miliardi... e va ancora avanti.
Perché i poveri prendono soldi. E perché la "élite" che controllano il flusso dei soldi ottengono il sostegno degli elettori poveri... e anche una parte sostanziale di suddetti soldi.
Per ogni dollaro distribuito, gli addetti alla lotta contro la povertà trattengono 72 centesimi (una cifra ampiamente discussa, ma tutt'altro che certa). Se questa cifra è corretta, gli addetti ai lavori hanno tirato su più di $15,000 miliardi negli ultimi 50 anni – facendo finta di combattere la povertà!
La Guerra alla Droga è stata dichiarata nel 1971.
L'economista di Harvard, Jeffrey Miron, dice che ai contribuenti è costata $41 miseri miliardi.
La "guerra" la si comprende meglio se la si considera come un partenariato pubblico-privato – tra il business delle droghe illegali e le agenzie statali contro tale business.
Dopo tutto, dove sarebbe l'ex-tossicodipendente e ora "zar della droga" in America, Michael Botticelli, senza gli spacciatori di droga?
E senza la DEA dove sarebbero i boss della droga?
Supponiamo che dovessero competere sul prezzo, sulla qualità e sul servizio... invece che sulle sparatorie. Sarebbero messi fuori dal mercato da tipi con diapositive di PowerPoint e fogli di calcolo.
I giganti del tabacco e le aziende di liquori – con decenni di esperienza, reti di distribuzione, canali di vendita al dettaglio, marketing e know-how – dovrebbero subito darsi da fare.
Al contrario, l'industria delle droghe illegali – incluse agenzie statali come BATF, DEA, FBI, polizia locale, prigioni, tribunali, e tutta una sottocultura di criminali – rimane in piedi.
[*] traduzione di Francesco Simoncelli: http://francescosimoncelli.blogspot.it/
L’infelice destino di Donald Trump è quello di assistere ad una crisi finanziaria ben peggiore rispetto all’ultima
Ad un terremoto non importa se sei progressista o populista. Distrugge la tua casa comunque. Allo stesso modo una crisi finanziaria è indifferente alla combinazione delle linee di condotta di un politico.
Il ritmo delle recenti crisi del 1994, 1998 e 2008 ci dice che un’altra crisi è probabilmente in arrivo. Un nuovo panico finanziario globale sarà una eredità dell’amministrazione Trump. Non sarà colpa di Trump, semplicemente la sua disgrazia.
I modelli di equilibrio e valore a rischio (VAR) utilizzati dalle banche non prevede il nuovo panico. Questi modelli sono pattume di scienza, si affidano, come fanno sempre, su nozioni di mercati efficienti, sul normale rischio distribuito, sulla liquidità continua e su un futuro che ricorda il passato. Nessuna di queste ipotesi corrisponde a realtà.
I progressi nella psicologia comportamentale hanno demolito l’idea di mercati efficienti. I dati mostrano che la distribuzione del grado di rischio è una curva esponenziale e non una normale curva a campana. La liquidità evapora quando ne hai più bisogno. I prezzi hanno un vuoto fra loro e non si muovono continuamente.
Ognuna delle crisi 1994, 1998 e 2008 è stata peggiore di quella precedente e richiedeva un più drastico intervento. Il futuro non assomiglia al passato e continua a peggiorare. I modelli standard sono logori.
I recenti miglioramenti del modello che tiene in considerazione il rischio del cosiddetto “colpo di coda” ancora non riesce a fare i conti con la scala sistemica. L’evento più catastrofico possibile, in un sistema complesso, è una funzione esponenziale di scala. In parole povere, se si raddoppia la dimensione del sistema, non si raddoppia il rischio; esso aumenta il fattore di cinque o più volte.
Dal 2008, le più grandi banche del mondo, sono più grandi in termini di patrimonio lordo, sia per la quota totale dei depositi sia per l’importanza nozionale dei derivati (nozionale: titolo sottostante dei derivati; i derivati sono contratti basati su una previsione, praticamente come una scommessa ndt). Tutto ciò che era troppo grande per fallire nel 2008, oggi è più grande ed esponenzialmente più pericoloso.
Il testamento biologico e l’ Autorità di Risoluzione del Dodd-Frank (riforma a tutela dei consumatori in risposta alla crisi finanziaria del 2008 ndt) sono entrate in un’area protetta con recinti. Sembrano imponenti, ma lo sono solo di facciata. Le riforme non potranno fare nulla per fermare una folla inferocita. I regolari aumenti di capitale non saranno sufficienti. Quando l’effetto leva di una istituzione finanziaria deve affrontare il panico della liquidità, nessuna quantità di capitale è sufficiente. Prendiamo ad esempio la riflessione fatta dalla leggenda del pugilato Mike Tyson: “nessuno schema sopravvive al primo pugno in faccia”.
Le banche dovrebbero prendere lezione da Mike Tyson.
Se i modelli esistenti non funzionano, cosa si fa? Una combinazione di: teoria della complessità, statistica bayesiana (da Thomas Bayes, il concetto di interpretazione delle probabilità ndt) e di psicologia comportamentale sono in grado di produrre modelli con un forte potere di previsione. Tali modelli sono stati sviluppati in pochi centri di eccellenza: come il Santa Fè Institute, la London School of Economics e l’Istituto Federale Svizzero di Tecnologia di Zurigo. Però, sono ben lontani dalla tradizionale corrente di pensiero e non saranno adottati in tempo per mitigare la crisi successiva.
Il panico finanziario è dinamicamente e matematicamente identico a una varietà di fenomeni naturali quali: i terremoti e le valanghe. Mentre la neve si accumula sul versante di una montagna, gli osservatori esperti possono avvistare il pericolo di valanghe. Presto un fiocco di neve si posa in modo tale da sconvolgere gli altri che iniziano a slittare, formando uno scivolo e creando lo slancio per far scivolare il manto nevoso. Il tempismo è incerto, ma la valanga è inevitabile.
Quale fiocco di neve potrebbe farci precipitare nel prossimo panico finanziario? La Deutsche Bank è un candidato naturale. Meno ovvia è una mancata consegna fisica di oro in lingotti da una banca di Londra. Ciò esporrebbe il mercato dello “oro di carta” (sostituto dell’oro fisico ndt) iper-sfruttato per quello che è. Una catastrofe in scala naturale come quella di Fukushima.
Quello che incombe su questi fattori catalizzanti è una carenza globale di dollari, come è stato descritto dagli economisti Claudio Borio e Hyun Song Shin della Banca dei Regolamenti Internazionali (BRI). Un dollaro forte potrebbe innescare un’ondata di default sui 9 trilioni di dollari (un milione alla terza ndt) di debito societario dei mercati emergenti. Quei valori del 1994, della Crisi Tequila (forte svalutazione del peso messicano sul dollaro, al quale era agganciato ndt), li farebbe sembrare un default addomesticato.
La crisi del 2008 è stata stroncata con decine di trilioni di dollari di swap su valute (derivati sui flussi di cassa ndt), stampa di denaro e taglio dei tassi coordinato dalle banche centrali di tutto il mondo. La prossima crisi sarà oltre la portata delle banche centrali e non potranno contenerla perché, dal 2008, non sono riuscite a normalizzare i tassi di interesse o i loro bilanci.
Le banche centrali saranno in grado di tirare fuori un altro coniglio dal cilindro? Ora di conigli ne hanno fuori molti.
Non sono falsi conigli.
Nella prossima crisi, la liquidità verrà dal Fondo Monetario Internazionale, che è il solo ad avere un bilancio pulito. Il FMI stamperà denaro per l’equivalente di 10 trilioni di dollari, in diritti speciali di prelievo per tutto il mondo (unità di conto, attività di riserva monetaria internazionale ndt). La Cina e la Russia acconsentiranno a questa iniezione di liquidità a condizione che si acceleri la scomparsa del dollaro come valuta di riferimento della riserva globale.
Trump può evitare questo destino? Forse. Le pattuglie sugli sci (servizio di soccorso), per ridurre il pericolo di valanghe utilizzano la dinamite per scrostare il manto nevoso. Allo stesso modo il sistema finanziario può essere reso più sicuro solo riducendone la portata. Le navi di grandi dimensioni utilizzano le paratie a tenuta stagna per ottenere lo stesso margine di sicurezza. Un buco nello scafo inonda quella parte, ma la nave non affonda.
Scrostare la finanza significa reintegrare il Glass-Steagall (legge bancaria del 1933 ndt) e pre-Big Bang: la separazione tra deposito e sottoscrizione titoli. Ciò significherebbe demolire le grandi banche. JP Morgan, Chase Manhattan e Chemical Bank devono riemergere dalla stretta di Jamie Dimon (Presidente e Amministratore delegato della JP Morgan Chase ndt). I derivati dovrebbero essere vietati ad eccezione dei futures quotati (contratti a termine standardizzati ndt) e legati a specifici beni utilizzati per la copertura commerciale. È il momento di chiudere il casinò.
Saprà Trump perseguire queste politiche? È improbabile. Tali proposte si perderanno in un mare di priorità concorrenti. I lobbisti bancari che gestiscono le leve di comando a Washington insabbieranno tutto e non cambierà un gran che.
Prima o poi ci sarà un nuovo Segretario del Tesoro e con la Presidente della Fed (Janet Yellen ndt) potranno ripercorrere le orme di Hank Paulson (già Segretario del Tesoro nella presidenza di George W. Bush ndt) e Ben Bernanke del 2008 e dire al Presidente Trump che il sistema sta avendo un attacco di cuore e non hanno alcun rimedio se non quello di suggerire: una telefonata a Madame Lagarde (FMI).
Decentralization, pushback against the empire, questioning the narrative; Trump is unleashing it all.
Germany hits back at Trump criticism of refugee policy and BMW tariff threat
I don’t care so much about the BMW tariff threat; this isn’t a post on economics. I enjoyed the reasons for the criticism of Trump’s criticism about Germany’s refugee policy:
Responding to Trump’s comments that Merkel had made an “utterly catastrophic mistake by letting all these illegals into the country”, [Germany’s deputy chancellor and minister for the economy, Sigmar] Gabriel said the increase in the number of people fleeing the Middle East to seek asylum in Europe had partially been a result of US-led wars destabilising the region.
“There is a link between America’s flawed interventionist policy, especially the Iraq war, and the refugee crisis…
Finally, a meaningful political figure has the courage to say it. But why say it now, you ask? Well, because it is perhaps becoming acceptable for the empire’s colonies to criticize American hegemony now that Trump is POTUS.
…that’s why my advice would be that we shouldn’t tell each other what we have done right or wrong, but that we look into establishing peace in that region and do everything to make sure people can find a home there again,” Gabriel said.
Yes, you should “tell each other what we have done right or wrong….” Get it out there, debate the issues.
It would do the world some good if Europe pushes back against being a colony. It might reduce tensions with Russia; it might reduce support for interventions in the Middle East and Africa.
It certainly would increase decentralization.
Of course, this could all be merely negotiation posturing on Trump’s part; destabilize the counterparty in order to get them to be more malleable in the end. Even if this is the case, it cannot hurt the broader public dialogue that Trump throws his comments out there and the recipients of his punches decide to publicly respond.
It will get people to talk about things they haven’t been allowed to talk about.
Reprinted with permission from Bionic Mosquito.
Thomas Paine was born in 1737 in Britain. His first thirty-seven years of life were pretty much a series of failures and disappointments. Business fiascos, firings, the death of his first wife and child, a failed second marriage, and bankruptcy plagued his early life. He then met Benjamin Franklin in 1774 and was convinced to emigrate to America, arriving in Philadelphia in November 1774. He thus became the Father of the American Revolution with the publication of Common Sense, pamphlets which crystallized opinion for colonial independence in 1776.
The first pamphlet was published in Philadelphia on January 10, 1776, and signed anonymously “by an Englishman.” It became an instantaneous sensation, swiftly disseminating 100,000 copies in three months among the two and a half million residents of the 13 colonies. Over 500,000 copies were sold during the course of the American Revolution. Paine published Common Sense after the battle of Lexington and Concord, making the argument the colonists should seek complete independence from Great Britain, rather than merely fighting against unfair levels of taxation. The pamphlets stirred the masses with a fighting spirit, instilling in them the backbone to resist a powerful empire.
It was read aloud in taverns, churches, and town squares, promoting the notion of republicanism, bolstering fervor for complete separation from Britain, and boosting recruitment for the fledgling Continental Army. He rallied public opinion in favor of revolution among layman, farmers, businessmen and lawmakers. It compelled the colonists to make an immediate choice. It made the case against the monarchy, aristocracy, tyranny and unfair taxation, offering Americans a solution – liberty and freedom. It was an important precursor to the Declaration of Independence, which was written six months later by Paine’s fellow revolutionaries.
Paine’s contribution to American independence 241 years ago during the first American Fourth Turning cannot be overstated. His clarion call for colonial unity against a tyrannical British monarch played a providential role in convincing farmers, shopkeepers, and tradesmen reconciliation with a hereditary monarchy was impossible, and armed separation was the only common sense option. He made the case breaking away from Britain was inevitable, and the time was now. The armed conflict had already occurred, but support for a full-fledged revolution had not yet coalesced within the thirteen colonies. Paine’s rhetorical style within the pamphlets aroused enough resentment against the British monarchy to rally men to arms, so their children wouldn’t have to fight their battles.
“I prefer peace, but if trouble must come, let it be in my time that my children may know peace.” – Thomas Paine
Paine did not write Common Sense or The American Crisis pamphlets for his contemporaries like John Adams, Samuel Adams, Jefferson, Madison, or Franklin. These intellectual giants were already convinced of the need to permanently break away from the British Empire and form a new nation. Paine wrote his pamphlets in a style understandable to the common man, rendering complex concepts intelligible for the average citizen. Paine seized this historic moment of crisis to provide the intellectual basis for a republican revolution. To inspire his citizen soldiers, George Washington had Paine’s pamphlets read aloud at their encampments.
“These are the times that try men’s souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like Hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.” – Thomas Paine – The American Crisis
The wealthy landowners and firebrands who comprised the Continental Congress leadership were not the audience Paine was trying to sway. They were focused on how a Declaration of Independence would affect the war effort. They were deficient in making their case to the less informed populace.
Without public support and volunteers to fight the Redcoats, the revolution would have failed. Paine’s indispensable contribution to our country’s independence was initiating a public debate and disseminating ideas about independence among those who would need to do the fighting and dying if independence was to be achieved.
Paine was able to synthesize philosophical enlightenment concepts about human rights into common sense ideas understood by ordinary folks. Paine was not a highly educated intellectual and trusted the common people to make sound assessments regarding major issues, based upon wisdom dispensed in a common sense way. He used common sense to refute the professed entitlements of the British ruling establishment. He used common sense as a weapon to de-legitimize King George’s despotic monarchy, overturning the conventional thinking among the masses.
Paine was able to fuse the common cause of the Founding Fathers and the people into a collective revolutionary force. Even though their numbers were small, Paine convinced them they could defeat an empire.
“It is not in numbers, but in unity, that our great strength lies; yet our present numbers are sufficient to repel the force of all the world” – Thomas Paine, Common Sense
Paine didn’t know he was propelling the American Revolution Fourth Turning towards its successful climax when he wrote those pamphlets. His use of the term Crisis as the title to his second group of pro-revolutionary pamphlets displayed his grasp of the mood in the colonies toward the existing social order. The majority of the 2.5 million people living in the 13 colonies in 1776 were native born. Their loyalty to a distant monarch, treating them with contempt and taxing them to support his far-flung empire, had been waning as time progressed. They were ready to shed the cloak of oppression and Paine gave them the rationale for doing so.
JUPITER, Fla.—The plastic remote on my Sunbeam Electric Heated Fleece Blanket went haywire last night and made me oversleep, so I spent the day in my spaghetti-strap T-shirt and my favorite pair of wind pants from the Adidas outlet store out on Interstate 95 binge-watching the Death Wish series because I couldn’t remember which movie had the scene where Charles Bronson blows away Laurence Fishburne with a perfect American Sniper-style long-distance kill shot that goes through the giant boom box Laurence is holding on his shoulder and into the lowlife gangbanger’s skull.
It turned out to be in Death Wish II, but by the time I found it I was in the grip of Angry White Man Syndrome and so I had to watch all the way through to the vastly underrated Death Wish V: The Face of Death because I had fond memories of the cyanide-laced-cannoli scene.
That’s what we Angry White Men do.
When we’re not beating up our wives and girlfriends or killing Meskin illegals with our concealed-carry Glocks purchased at the Tactical Knife and Gun Wholesale Megamarket in Lumberton, North Carolina, we’re pretty much leading normal lives hanging around the Waffle House so the process server can’t find us and extradite us to southern Alabama to face charges in the 47 months of back child-support payments we never paid because we “just forgot, Your Honor.”
I actually didn’t realize I was an Angry White Man until I finished reading the 397 articles written since the election that starts out, “Donald Trump is the product of hatred, misogyny, nativism, bigotry, and resentment emanating from angry white men lamenting the loss of their factory jobs to China.”
The only factory I ever worked at was Phil Hargett’s bus-bench factory in Tullahoma, Tennessee, but I always thought the reason they went out of business was that Phil sold ads on the back of the benches to the Mons Venus All Nude Strip Club in Tampa, causing the Tampa City Council to cancel his contract. Knowing that China stole the municipal-bus-bench business from us makes me even angrier, since it probably makes me ineligible for unemployment checks.
The Angry White Man theory is based on the fact that “whites without a college degree”—apparently this is something that pollsters keep track of—voted for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton by a margin of 39 percent. This one statistic has been repeated over and over to bolster the phrase “angry white men,” first used by Bill Clinton as a way of explaining the 1994 midterm elections—and used again this year to explain his wife’s loss, indicating Bill really is stuck in the past.
If you knew about the Angry White Men in 1994, Bill, why didn’t you warn Hillary?
But more to the point, if you keep calling people like me Angry White Men, we eventually become…Angry Goldurn White Men!
President-elect Donald Trump’s threats against American companies looking to relocate in foreign countries have won favorable review from many quarters. Support comes from those alarmed about trade deficits, those who want a “level playing field” and those who call for “free trade but fair trade,” whatever that means.
Some American companies relocate in foreign lands because costs are lower and hence their profits are higher. Lower labor costs are not the only reason companies move to other countries.
Life Savers, a candy manufacturing company, was based in Holland, Michigan, for decades. In 2002, it moved to Montreal. It didn’t move because Canada had lower wages. Canadian wages are similar to ours. The mayor of Holland offered Kraft, the parent company of Life Savers, a 15-year tax break worth $25 million to stay. But Kraft’s CEO said it would save $90 million over the same period because sugar was less expensive in Canada. Congress can play favorites with U.S. sugar producers by keeping foreign sugar out, enabling them to charge higher sugar prices, earn higher profits and pay their employees higher wages. Our Congress has no power to force the Canadian Parliament to impose similar sugar import restrictions.
One of the unappreciated benefits of international trade is that it helps reveal the cost of domestic policy. For example, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration can impose high costs on American companies, but it has no jurisdiction elsewhere. Our Environmental Protection Agency can impose costly regulations on American companies, but it has no power to impose costly regulations on companies in other countries. Congress can impose costly tax burdens on American companies, but it has no power to do so abroad. Restrictions on international trade conceal these costs. My argument here is not against the costly regulations that we impose on ourselves. I am merely suggesting that we should appreciate the cost of those regulations. The fact that a good or service can be produced more cheaply elsewhere helps.
Trump’s threats to impose high tariffs on the products of companies that leave ought to be a worry for us — namely, whether we are going to have another president who flouts the U.S. Constitution. Here’s how Article 1, Section 7 of our Constitution reads: “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.” President Barack Obama has circumvented the Constitution and Congress through executive orders. His success in doing so has put too much power in the hands of the executive branch. One wonders whether Trump plans to broaden that power by implementing trade tariffs through executive order.
In early December, Masayoshi Son, CEO of SoftBank, a Japanese telecommunications company, pledged, after meeting with Trump, to invest $50 billion in the United States, a move that would create 50,000 jobs. I wonder whether Trump would support Japanese domestic interests that might want to prevent so many jobs from moving away from Japan. A few weeks ago, when it was announced that Peter Navarro was appointed to lead the new White House National Trade Council, Trump said Navarro will work to “shrink our trade deficit.” Yet more foreign investment would put upward pressure on America’s trade deficit.
Some Americans support trade restrictions because they think there is a problem with having a trade deficit, i.e., buying more from foreigners than they buy from us. But when foreigners sell us goods and take home U.S. dollars, what do they do with those dollars? The answer to that question lies in the fact that ultimately, dollars are only good in the U.S. They can go from country to country, but they sooner or later wind up in the U.S. as claims on what we produce.
By the way, all trade is fair in the eyes of the parties trading, or else they would not trade. It’s third parties who seek to interfere.
Since World War II, the two men who have most terrified this city by winning the presidency are Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump.
And they have much in common.
Both came out of the popular culture, Reagan out of Hollywood, Trump out of a successful reality TV show. Both possessed the gifts of showmen — extraordinarily valuable political assets in a television age that deals cruelly with the uncharismatic.
Both became instruments of insurgencies out to overthrow the establishment of the party whose nomination they were seeking.
Reagan emerged as the champion of the postwar conservatism that had captured the Republican Party with Barry Goldwater’s nomination in 1964. His victory in 1980 came at the apogee of conservative power.
The populism that enabled Trump to crush 16 Republican rivals and put him over the top in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan had also arisen a decade and a half before — in the 1990s.
A decisive advantage Reagan and Trump both enjoyed is that in their decisive years, the establishments of both parties were seen as having failed the nation.
Reagan was victorious after Russia invaded Afghanistan; Americans were taken a hostage in Tehran; and the U.S. had endured 21 percent interest rates, 13 percent inflation, 7 percent unemployment and zero growth.
When Trump won, Americans had gone through years of wage stagnation. Our industrial base had been hollowed out. And we seemed unable to win or end a half-dozen Middle East wars in which we had become ensnared.
What is the common denominator of both the Reagan landslide of 1980 and Trump’s victory?
Both candidates appealed to American nationalism.
In the late 1970s, Reagan took the lead in the campaign to save the Panama Canal. “We bought it. We paid for it. It’s ours. And we’re going to keep it,” thundered the Gipper.
While he lost the fight for the Canal when the GOP establishment in the Senate lined up behind Jimmy Carter, the battle established Reagan as a leader who put his country first.
Trump unapologetically seized upon the nationalist slogan that was most detested by our globalist elites, “America first!”
He would build a wall, secure the border, stop the invasion. He would trash the rotten trade treaties negotiated by transnational elites who had sold out our sovereignty and sent our jobs to China.
He would demand that freeloading allies in Europe, the Far East, and the Persian Gulf pay their fair share of the cost of their defense.
In the rhetoric of Reagan and Trump there is a simplicity and a directness that is familiar to, and appeals to, the men and women out in Middle America, to whom both directed their campaigns.
In his first press conference in January of 1981, Reagan said of the Kremlin, “They reserve unto themselves the right to commit any crime, to lie, to cheat. … We operate on a different set of standards.”
He called the Soviet Union an “evil empire” and the “focus of evil in the modern world.”
The State Department was as wary of what Reagan might say or do then as they are of what Trump might tweet now.
But while there are similarities between these outsiders who captured their nominations and won the presidency by defying and then defeating the establishments of both political parties, the situations they confront are dissimilar.
Reagan took office in a time of Cold War clarity.
Though there was sharp disagreement over how tough the United States should be and what was needed for national defense, there was no real question as to who our adversaries were.
As had been true since the time of Harry Truman, the world struggle was between communism and freedom, the USSR and the West, the Warsaw Pact and the NATO alliance.
There was a moral clarity then that no longer exists now.
Today, the Soviet Empire is gone, the Warsaw Pact is gone, the Soviet Union is gone, and the Communist movement is moribund.
NATO embraces three former republics of the USSR, and we confront Moscow in places like Crimea and the Donbass that no American of the Reagan era would have regarded as a national interest of the United States.
We no longer agree on who our greatest enemies are, or what the greatest threats are.
Is it Vladimir Putin’s Russia? Is it Iran? Is it China, which Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson says must be made to vacate the air, missile and naval bases it has built on rocks and reefs in the South China Sea that Beijing claims as its national territory?
Is it North Korea, now testing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles?
Beyond issues of war and peace, there are issues at home — race, crime, policing, abortion, LGBT rights, immigration (legal and illegal) and countless others on which this multicultural, multiracial and multiethnic nation is split two, three, many ways.
The existential question of the Trump era might be framed thus: How long will this divided democracy endure as one nation and one people?
It was October and the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate was faltering in the polls after the Democratic National Convention. The Republican Party’s presidential candidate began negotiating with a foreign government to cook up a scheme to embarrass the Democratic candidate. The scheme was successful and the Democratic candidate went on to lose the election to a Republican candidate who was feared by many for his unorthodox stance on several domestic and foreign issues.
If one thinks the above description is about the recent 2016 election, he or she would be wrong. In 1980, Democratic President Jimmy Carter, running for re-election under the cloud of the U.S. embassy in Tehran having been seized by radical Iranian students and 52 members of its staff being held hostage, was trying desperately to pull off an «October Surprise» to salvage his presidency. Unbeknownst to Carter, the campaign of his Republican rival, Ronald Reagan, had secretly negotiated an «arms-for-no-hostages» deal with the Ayatollah Khomeini’s regime in Iran.
In return for the shipment of embargoed military items, including spare parts for Iran’s U.S.-supplied F-14 Tomcat fighter planes and Phoenix air-to-air missiles for the planes, before the November 4 election, the Reagan team was promised by the Iranians that Tehran would hold the hostages until after the November election. Upon Reagan’s defeat of Carter, Iran held true to its promise and did not release the American hostages until noon Eastern Standard Time on January 20, 1981, the very moment Reagan raised his hand to take the presidential oath of office.
Although the media today is rife with reports of so-called «treasonous» contacts between Donald Trump advisers and officials of the Russian government, the media was not to be found anywhere in October 1980 when the Central Intelligence Agency, working with the Reagan campaign, contracted with a U.S. merchant vessel, the «SS Poet», to deliver the U.S. military contraband to Iran. In 1980, vice presidential candidate George H. W. Bush and Ronald Reagan’s campaign manager William Casey secretly met with Iranian government officials, reportedly in Paris, and worked out the covert «arms-for-no-hostages» plan. The Reagan team was worried that Carter would beat them to the punch because of the White House’s own secret negotiations with Iranian representatives to have the hostages freed in October, giving Carter a much-need campaign boost.
The Reagan conspirators included, in addition to Bush and Casey, Robert Gates and Donald Gregg, the CIA’s moles inside the Carter National Security Council. Carter’s national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, not happy with Carter’s human rights stance, may have given a «wink and a nod» to the treason. The entire caper was conducted without the knowledge of Stansfield Turner, Carter’s friend and U.S. Naval Academy classmate who served as CIA director.
The «SS Poet», a World War II-era U.S. merchant vessel, was at the center of the Reagan team’s treasonous plot. Little has been written about the fate of the vessel because the CIA arranged to have it sunk while outbound from the Persian Gulf after it delivered its weapons cache to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas. The ship was officially listed as «lost at sea» somewhere in the mid-Atlantic after departing from Philadelphia’s Girard Point marine pier #3 on October 24, 1980. The ship was ostensibly bound with a cargo of 13,500 tons of corn for Port Said, Egypt, but, in reality, had military equipment loaded in its rear number four cargo, contraband bound for Iran.
The crew of 34 U.S. citizens was declared «missing at sea» by a U.S. Coast Guard board of inquiry, which was under heavy pressure from the CIA to cover up the ship’s fate in the Gulf. The Reagan team sweetened the deal with a cash payment to Iran. Gates was said to have overseen the transfer of money to an Iranian bank account at Banque Worms in Geneva.
The Coast Guard report on the «Poet’s» disappearance was tainted by an individual who claimed to have been a former third assistant engineer on the vessel. A year after the «Poet» disappeared, the witness told the Coast Guard, after the Board of Inquiry had already issued its conclusion about the fate of the ship, that the vessel was not seaworthy. However, this individual later was discovered to have been an impostor, likely hired by Casey’s CIA, who never served on board the «Poet».
The CIA’s cover story, dutifully echoed by the Coast Guard, was the Poet sank without a trace in three minutes and without a distress call. One of the Poet’s previous trips, in the months prior to sailing to Iran, was to Israel. The vessel had been chartered by Hawaiian Eugenia Corporation, the Poet’s owner and a firm with murky CIA links, to sail to Israel. There is a strong possibility that the Israelis rigged the ship with explosives that would be detonated after its delivery of weapons to Iran on behalf of the CIA and Reagan-Bush campaign plotters.
There was a feeble attempt by certain remaining pro-Carter elements within the CIA and Justice Department to investigate the involvement of a foreign power – Iran – in the 1980 election. A March 16, 1981, memo written by then-unconfirmed Associate Attorney General Rudolph Giuliani to the Acting Criminal Division chief, John Keeney, which was titled «CIA Referral – Alleged Foreign Government Interference With 1980 Presidential Election», suggests that the CIA referred to the Justice Department certain evidence that there was criminal activity involving a foreign power in the 1980 presidential election.
Keeney and Giuliani agree to draft a letter from Deputy Attorney General Edward C. Schmults to the CIA to ask for a full report on the criminal referral. The CIA report, which was never written, would have been available to Justice personnel on a strict need-to-know basis. It can be assumed that after Casey took over at the CIA, he immediately quashed the investigation of the involvement of Iran in the 1980 election.
In any case, the investigation was stopped dead in its tracks. The Attorney General at the time of the Giuliani memo was Reagan confidante William French Smith. Smith’s special assistant at the time was David Hiller, who later became the publisher, president, and CEO of the Los Angeles Times. Hiller’s fellow special assistant for Smith was John G. Roberts, Jr., later nominated by George W. Bush to the Supreme Court as Associate Justice, followed by his nomination to be Chief Justice.
The «Poet’s» official charter to sail a cargo of corn to Port Said was oddly appended with a «war risk» clause, even though Egypt was not in a state of war. The only state of war that existed at the time was in the Gulf between Iran and Iraq. The charter also involved Universal Shipping Company, a CIA front company headquartered in Rosslyn, Virginia, along with other firms controlled by CIA weapons smuggler Edwin Wilson. Later convicted and imprisoned for smuggling weapons to Libya, Wilson, a «retired» CIA operative, contended that his weapons smuggling operations were carried out with the approval of the CIA.
There is an interesting current news peg to the story of the 1980 election and the «Poet.» The Iranian side in the «arms-for-no-hostages» conspiracy was led by the then-speaker of the Iranian parliament, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. He would later become a key cog in the Iran-contra scandal that almost brought down the Reagan administration. Rafsanjani died recently at the age of 82. Considered a leading Iranian moderate, Rafsanjani traveled widely throughout the United States prior to the Iranian revolution in 1979 and he may have served as a deep cover CIA asset. With his death disappears from the scene another witness to the treachery involving the disappearance of the «SS Poet».
When the CIA wants to advance a meme that a foreign nation interfered in a U.S. election, it can coax its puppets in the media to hype the story, as seen now with the frivolous allegations about Russia and the Trump campaign. However, when the Langley boys want to bury their own chicanery and skullduggery in election interference, as is currently the case with CIA and British MI-6 involvement in the 2016 election on behalf of Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton and as was the situation in 1980 with Iran and the Reagan campaign, the media dutifully follows.
The war against Syria is the first to have been waged, for more than six years, in the digital era. A wealth of documents which should have remained secret for many years have already been published. Although they have been released in different countries, so that international public opinion is unaware of them, they already enable us to piece together the events concerned. The release of a recording of comments made in private by John Kerry last September reveals the policies of the Secretary of State and obliges all observers — including ourselves — to review our previous analyses.
The broadcast by The Last Refuge of the complete recording of the meeting between Secretary of State John Kerry and the members of the National Coalition (22 September 2016, at the Dutch delegation to the United Nations) calls into question what we thought we knew about the US position on Syria.
First of all, we believed that while Washington had launched the operation known as the «Arab Spring» in order to overthrow the secular Arab régimes for the benefit of the Muslim Brotherhood, it had left its allies to assume the second war against Syria on their own, as from July 2012. Since these states pursued their own objectives — recolonisation for France and the United Kingdom, theft of gas reserves for Qatar, expansion of Wahhabism and revenge for the Lebanese civil war for Saudi Arabia, annexation of the North of the country for Turkey on the Cypriot model, etc. — the original objective had been abandoned. However, John Kerry states in this recording that Washington has never stopped seeking to overthrow the Syrian Arab Republic, which implies that it supervised the work of its allies at every stage. It follows that, over the last four years, the jihadists have been commanded, armed and coordinated by NATO Allied LandCom (ground forces command) based in Izmir (Turkey).
Second, John Kerry confirms here that Washington could go no further because of international Law and the position of Russia. Let’s be clear about this – the United States have never ceased exceeding their rights. They have destroyed most of Syria’s oil and gas infrastructures, on the pretense of fighting the jihadists (which is allowed under international Law), but without having been invited by President el-Assad (which violates international Law). However, they did not dare to deploy their troops on the ground and openly fight the Republic, as they did in Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq. For that job, they chose to put their allies in the front line — leadership from behind — and to support mercenary forces without discretion, as they did in Nicaragua, at the risk of being sanctioned by the International Court of Justice (UN internal tribunal). Washington does not want to engage in a war against Russia, which, although it had not opposed the destruction of Yugoslavia and Libya, stood up and drew a new line which must not be crossed. Moscow has the capacity to defend the Law by force if Washington were to openly engage in a new war of conquest.
Third, John Kerry confirms here that Washington hoped for the victory of Daesh over the Republic. Until now — on the basis of the report by General Michael Flynn on 12 August 2012 and the article by Robin Wright in the New York Times on 28 Septembre 2013 — we had understood that the Pentagon intended to create a «Sunnistan» straddling Syria and Iraq, in order to cut the «Silk Road». However, he admits that the plan went much further than that. Probably, Daesh was to take Damascus and then be chased out by Tel-Aviv (in other words, they would be pushed back to the «Sunnistan» which had been allotted to them). Syria would then be shared between Israel in the South, Daesh in the East, and Turkey in the North.
This point enables us to understand why Washington gave the impression of no longer being able to control events, of giving its allies «free rein» — indeed, it engaged France and the United Kingdom in the war by leading them to believe that they would be able to recolonise the Levant, while in fact, it had planned to divide Syria without them.
Fourth, by admitting that Washington «supported» Daesh, John Kerry recognizes that it armed them, which destroys the rhetoric of the «war on terror».
Since the attack against the al-Askari mosque in Samarra, on 22 February 2006, we knew that Daesh (originally known as the «Islamic Emirate of Iraq») had been created by the national director of US Intelligence, John Negroponte, and Colonel James Steele — on the model they had used in Honduras — in order to put an end to the Iraqi Resistance and to spark a civil war.
We knew, since the publication by the PKK daily, Özgür Gündem, of the minutes of the planning meeting held in Amman on 1 June 2014, that the United States had organized the joint offensive of Daesh on Mosul and the Kurdistan Regional Government on Kirkuk.
We now know with certainty that Washington has never stopped supporting Daesh.
Fifth, we had interpreted the conflict between the Allen/Clinton/Feltman/Petraeus clan on one hand, and the Obama/Kerry administration on the other, as being concerned with the question of whether or not to support Daesh. This interpretation was wrong. Both sides had no qualms about organising and supporting the most fanatical of jihadists. Their disagreement concerned only the recourse to open warfare — and the risk of potential conflict with Russia — or the choice of secret action. Only Flynn — Donald Trump’s current security advisor — is opposed to jihadism.
If, in a few years, the United States should collapse as the USSR did, this recording of John Kerry could be used against him, and against Barack Obama, before an international court — but not before the International Criminal Court, which today is discredited. Having recognised the extracts of this conversation which have been published by the New York Times, he would no longer be able to contest the authenticity of the whole dossier. The support that Kerry offers to Daesh violates several UN resolutions and constitutes proof of his responsibility and that of Obama in the crimes against humanity committed by the terrorist organisation.
After the most unprecedented denigration of a presidential candidate in US history, the worst may be yet to come, beginning Friday with Trump’s inauguration as America’s 45th president.
Pro-Hillary dark forces call him illegitimate. Media scoundrels beat on him relentlessly. Whatever he does or says or doesn’t do or doesn’t say is criticized.
Nothing in memory resembles what’s gone on since mid-2015. The problem isn’t Trump. It’s America’s debauched system – fantasy democracy, not the real thing.
Leaders like Obama govern by the script handed them, doing the bidding of powerful dark forces running the country. Trump’s anti-establishment sounding rhetoric scares them, especially talk of getting along with Vladimir Putin – anathema in neocon infested Washington.
Days before his inauguration, a disgraceful Huffington Post article contemptuously headlined “Hillary Clinton is the Legitimate President,” saying:
“The evidence is clear. Hillary Clinton is the rightful president-elect, and courts must use the broad discretionary powers with which they are vested to enjoin an illegitimate president from taking office.”
Shocking stuff, here in America, not in some faraway tinpot dictatorship. The evidence is very clear. Trump won convincingly. Hillary lost whining, whimpering, simpering and groaning, believing it was her turn as a woman to claim the nation’s highest office.
Her defeat let humanity dodge a possible nuclear bullet. Huffpo saying US courts should intervene on her behalf is seditious or treasonous – despicably promoting coup d’etat action to prevent an elected US president from taking office.
Huffpo: “Every major intelligence agency in the country has reached the same conclusion: Russian hackers engaged in cyber attacks with the express purpose of helping Donald Trump win the election.”
“They operated at the directive of Russian President Vladimir Putin, apparently motivated by his hatred for Clinton.”
Fact: This is what passes for mainstream news and information – utter rubbish, knowing, or should know, not a shred of evidence suggests Russian-US election hacking.
The whole dirty story was fabricated – a disgraceful scheme to delegitimize Trump and prevent normalizing ties with Russia.
Promoting the notion of Hillary as America’s legitimate president is scandalous, stuff commonplace in banana republics or despotic monarchies.
It’ll likely continue after Trump enters office – instead of focusing solely on how he governs, judging him by what he does or doesn’t do for good or ill.
A rough ride awaits him. Fidel Castro’s advice to Hugo Chavez before his death applies to Trump, saying “(t)ake care what you eat, what they give you to eat. They inject you with I don’t know what.”
Watch your back is also sound advice, including carefully vetting security personnel assigned for protection.
Threatening dark forces make survival Trump’s top priority.
Reprinted with permission from SteveLendmanBlog.
A bill has been proposed in U.S. House of Representatives that would eliminate the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The ATF Elimination Act, which was reintroduced by Wisconsin Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner on Thursday, calls for an ATF hiring freeze and would transfer the ATF’s current responsibilities to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
According to the bill, the FBI and DEA would need to submit a plan for scaling down ATF affairs within 180 days of the bill’s enactment into law. Within one year, the FBI would have to issue a report to the General Services Administration regarding ATF property that will either need to be transferred or excessed.
In a press release Thursday, Rep. Sensenbrenner issued the following statement regarding the proposal:
Despite our country being trillions of dollars in debt, government spending continues to rise. Common sense budgeting solutions are necessary, and the ATF Elimination Act is one measure we can take to reduce spending, redundancy, and practice responsible governance. The ATF is a scandal-ridden, largely duplicative agency that has been branded by failure and lacks a clear mission. It is plagued by backlogs, funding gaps, hiring challenges, and a lack of leadership. These facts make it a logical place to begin draining the swamp and acting in the best interest of the American taxpayer.
This is one of the most complete works I’ve ever read. G. Edward Griffin takes a very difficult concept and conveys it simply and accurately. The Federal Reserve Bank is arguably the most influential institution in the United States. Understanding the history of this institution is vital for grounding your relationship with the US government in reality.
The Creature from Jekyll Island is also more than a history book. It reveals the intrinsically worthless nature of fiat currency, which can be difficult to accept psychologically because of the deep web of social deception that has been spun since the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944. This false paradigm is a carefully controlled public relations program intended to perpetuate the corrupt sociopolitical order, which critics have characterized metaphorically as a vampire or a squid.
Fundamentally, the system is a Ponzi scheme that siphons power from the base of society up to the apex of the pyramid to those closest to the printing press. This is why politicians rooted in Washington never seem to leave. Untaxed public spending is the ultimate source of power. It is even greater than the promise of wealth garnered through private enterprise. It operates like a black hole sucking in real material wealth and energy, leaving an inflationary void of death in its wake.
The sad part is the gravity, the social force, that the fiat system creates is believed to be necessary for society to remain stable and organized. This is the justification for the Orwellian ‘order through chaos’ model. Unfortunately, given the small percentage of self-awakened, self-reliant individuals in society, I regrettably admit the model is probably right. A high percentage of Homo Sapiens are a mere stones throw away from ferality and accept their ignorance with pride.
For the enlightened, G. Edward Griffin is a respected and reliable source, brave enough to challenge established monetary theory when other authors “sell out.” Make no mistake, this is a topic that offers economic experts and historians more than enough justification to be misleading in their analysis. As is often the case, when truth has value it is hidden. A special thanks to Griffin, the truth is hidden no more.
“Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.” –General James “Mad Dog” Mattis
While rare, violence often strikes when you least expect it. To counter violent attacks, you need to be fast and furious. Hand-to-hand combatives are a great tool to have up your sleeve to quickly dispatch an attacker, but you should always be looking for force multipliers—tools that make your counterattacks even more painful, damaging, and effective.
Having some sort of defensive weapon—be it a firearm, knife, or spray—as part of your EDC is never a bad idea, but sometimes you don’t have one on you (like when you’re in an area that prohibits weapons), your attacker has taken or knocked your weapon away, or you’re in a position that makes drawing your weapon hard to do.
Thankfully, you’re constantly surrounded by potential weapons that can be quickly accessed to counter violent attacks. To find and employ them, you just need to hone the most important weapon in your arsenal—your mind.
In the right hands, seemingly innocuous, everyday items can be turned into lethal weapons. Such a transformation just requires violating those objects’ Aristotelian telos—the end for which they were made. If your life is on the line, I don’t think old Aristotle would mind.
Below we offer 12 suggestions of everyday objects that can be turned into improvised weapons. Use this as a jumping off point to think of how other objects could save your life in a pinch. When you’re out and about in public, practice scanning your environment and considering what might be used as a weapon if needed. Think of it as creating mental models for your OODA Loop so you can win the fight if/when it comes your way.
Pot of Hot Coffee
There’s nothing like the smell of coffee brewing when you first wake up in the morning. And if you’re ever attacked while pouring your cup of joe, you can take comfort in the fact that you’re not just holding something wonderfully fragrant, but a great weapon as well.
Smash the pot into your attacker’s face. The blunt force will stun him, the shards of glass will embed in his kisser, and the scalding hot coffee will make him wish he stayed home that morning.
Same principle as the coffee pot, just on a smaller scale. Throw the hot coffee from your mug into the attacker’s face and then proceed to bash him in his fleshy mug with caffeinated ferocity.
Fire extinguishers cannot only save your life in a fire, but in a violent attack as well. Spray the assailant in the face to temporarily distract him and disrupt his OODA Loop. While he’s figuring out what’s going on, forcefully bludgeon him in the head with the extinguisher’s canister.
In the right hands, the pen can indeed be mightier than the sword. A stainless steel pen like this Zebra number can be used to stab an assailant. Hold it with an overhand grip and aim for vulnerable parts of the body like the face and throat. If you really want to up your writing-implement-as-weapon game, get a true tactical pen like this Smith & Wesson.
Your keys can start your car or let you into your house. They can also savagely maim a violent attacker. Hold the keys in your hand so their points are coming out between the fingers of your fist. Proceed to punch your attacker in vulnerable parts of the body like the face and throat.
One thing our ancestors knew how to do well was rock a stylish piece of headwear. From squat caps to towering toppers, history has produced a hat for every occasion. Here are 12 old styles that, with a healthy dose of fashion and confidence, could still look just as fabulous today.
1. THE CLOCHE
Joan Crawford in a cloche. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
The sleek, head-hugging cloche was the perfect companion to the bobbed hairstyle worn by flappers in the 1920s. The hats were typically left plain to emphasize their bell-shaped silhouette, though they also offered a blank canvas for embellishment. The cloche was most popular during the Jazz Age but it’s occasionally incorporated into retro fashion styles today.
2. THE OTTOMAN HEADDRESS
In Ottoman ceremonial costumes, hats played a starring role. The headgear often featured bright colors, feathery ornamentations, and elaborate designs that signified status. The wearer’s class, religion, gender, and clan could all be gleaned from the way the fabric in their headdress was layered.
3. THE BOWLER HAT
The top hat was popular in the 19th century but it wasn’t always the most practical choice for outdoor activities. When looking for a way to protect the heads of horseback riders from branches, brothers Thomas and William Bowler came up with their namesake cap. The bowler hat was sturdy, compact, and appropriate for most any occasion. Though the bowler hat largely fizzled out by the 1980s, the item’s original London manufacturers Lock & Co. still sell thousands each year.
Unlike some hats from history, this one was prized for its simplicity. It could be easily identified by its brimless, round shape evoking that of a pillbox. It began gaining steam in the 1930s before reaching peak popularity with First Lady Jackie Kennedy in the 1960s.5. THE FASCINATOR
Depending on the look you’re going for, a fascinator can be worn as a subtle accent item or a show-stealing statement piece. The hat is defined as an ornamental headpiece that’s secured to the crown using a headband or comb. Once they fit that criteria, fascinators can take the form of flowers, feathers, fabric, or whatever else the wearer can engineer to stay on their head. And though they’re still popular in the U.K., Americans don’t tend to utilize fascinators outside of Derby Day attire.
6. THE TRI-CORNER HAT
In 17th century Europe and America, tri-cornered hats gave men the opportunity to show off their lustrous wigs poking out from beneath the upturned brim. It’s no surprise then that the hat style died out with the powdered wig fad, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fit for a comeback. Even if wearers don’t have wigs to flaunt, they could take a page from our forefathers’ book and upgrade the hat itself with feathers, brocades, and fabrics.
di Frank Shostak
Data la crescita economica ancora sottotono, molti esperti sono del parere che la presenza di denaro contante abbia costretto le banche centrali a fissare tassi negativi per stimolare l'attività economica. Si sostiene che in una futura crisi economica o finanziaria, gli attuali bassi tassi limiterebbero l'efficacia della politica monetaria.
La presenza di denaro contante, si sostiene, impedisce alle banche centrali di abbassare i tassi ad un livello che rilancerà l'attività economica. Ciò che impedisce la riduzione dei tassi è che questa mossa danneggerà gravemente i risparmiatori che mantengono il loro denaro in diversi conti bancari e questo è considerato come politicamente inaccettabile.
L'abolizione del denaro contante, si sostiene, migliorerà la capacità delle banche centrali di utilizzare i tassi negativi (forse fino a -5% l'anno) fornendo loro una maggiore flessibilità e gli strumenti per affrontare un rallentamento.
Avremo una maggiore crescita economica senza contanti?
Sostenendo l'abolizione del denaro contante, molti esperti stanno dicendo implicitamente che il denaro contante può essere sostituito dal denaro elettronico. Quest'ultimo può funzionare a patto che gli individui sappiano che possono convertirlo in denaro fiat, cioè, denaro su richiesta.
Senza un quadro di riferimento, non è possibile l'introduzione di nuove forme con cui saldare le transazioni.
Il denaro è emerso dal baratto per consentire forme più complesse di commercio e calcolo economico. La caratteristica distintiva del denaro è che è il mezzo generale di scambio, e si è evoluto attraverso le azioni private diventando la merce più commerciata. Su questo argomento Mises scrisse:
Esisterebbe una tendenza inevitabile che eliminerebbe le merci meno commerciate dalla serie di merci usate come mezzi di scambio, finché alla fine non rimarrebbe solo una merce, universalmente impiegata come mezzo di scambio; in una parola, il denaro.
Inoltre su questo argomento Rothbard scrisse:
Proprio come in natura c'è una grande varietà di capacità e risorse, esiste una varietà simile nella commerciabilità delle merci. Alcune merci sono più richieste di altre, alcune sono più divisibili in unità più piccole senza subire una perdita nel valore, alcune sono più durevoli nel tempo, alcune più trasportabili lungo grandi distanze. Tutti questi vantaggi apportano loro una maggiore commerciabilità. È chiaro che in ogni società le merci più commerciabili saranno progressivamente selezionate come mezzi per lo scambio. Dal momento che sono sempre più selezionate come mezzi di scambio, vedranno aumentare la loro domanda in virtù di suddetto uso e così diventeranno ancor più commerciabili. Il risultato è una spirale auto-rinforzante: più commerciabilità provoca più ampio utilizzo come mezzo di scambio, cosa che a sua volta provoca più commerciabilità, ecc. Infine uno o due merci vengono utilizzate come mezzi di scambio generali in quasi tutti gli scambi, e queste sono chiamate denaro.
Il denaro è la cosa per la quale vengono scambiati tutti gli altri beni e servizi. Inoltre il denaro deve emergere come merce. Un oggetto non può essere utilizzato come moneta a meno che non possieda già un valore di scambio oggettivo basato su altri usi. L'oggetto deve avere un prezzo preesistente per poter essere accettato come denaro.
Perché? La domanda di un bene deriva dal suo beneficio percepito. Per esempio, le persone necessitano di cibo perché ne hanno bisogno per nutrirsi. Per quanto riguarda il denaro, le persone ne hanno bisogno non per l'uso diretto nei consumi, ma al fine di scambiarlo per altri beni e servizi. Il denaro non è utile in sé, ma perché ha un valore di scambio ed è scambiabile con altri beni e servizi.
Il vantaggio che offre il denaro è il suo potere d'acquisto: il suo prezzo in termini di beni e servizi. Affinché qualcosa venga accettato come denaro, deve avere un potere d'acquisto preesistente — un prezzo. Questo prezzo potrebbe emergere solo se avesse un valore di scambio istituito nel baratto.
Perché il denaro fiat continua ad essere utilizzato come moneta
Una volta che una cosa diventa accettata come mezzo di scambio, continuerà ad essere accettata anche se la sua utilità non monetaria scompare. La ragione? Adesso le persone sono in possesso di informazioni precedenti sul suo potere d'acquisto. Questo a sua volta permette loro di dare forma alla domanda di moneta.
La chiave è la conoscenza del potere d'acquisto precedente. È questo fatto che ha reso possibile l'abolizione della convertibilità della cartamoneta in oro, preparando così il terreno per l'introduzione dello standard cartaceo.
Il punto cruciale qui è che un oggetto deve avere un potere d'acquisto stabilito per essere accettato come mezzo generale di scambio, cioè, denaro.
Al cuore del sistema monetario di oggi non c'è più l'oro, ma monete e banconote emesse da governi e banche centrali.
Monete e banconote costituiscono il denaro standard che conosciamo e sono impiegati nelle transazioni. Ciononostante è il legame storico con l'oro che permette alla cartamoneta d'essere accettabile in cambio.
È stato attraverso un lungo processo di selezione che le persone hanno accettato l'oro come merce più commerciata.
L'oro quindi è diventato il quadro di riferimento per le varie forme di pagamento. L'oro ha costituito la base per il valore del denaro fiat di oggi.
Inoltre la moneta elettronica non è una nuova forma di denaro che sostituisce le forme precedenti, ma è solo un nuovo modo di impiegare il denaro esistente nelle transazioni.
Visto che la moneta elettronica non è denaro reale, ma semplicemente un modo diverso di impiegare il denaro fiat esistente, ovviamente non può sostituirlo.
Si potrebbe sostenere che un decreto statale potrebbe forzare l'uso della moneta elettronica e sradicare lo standard cartaceo corrente. Questo approccio non funzionerebbe.
La moneta elettronica è un semplice dispositivo per immagazzinare informazioni relative a debiti e crediti. Non può acquisire potere d'acquisto indipendente; non può diventare denaro.
Funziona allo stesso modo con gli assegni, i quali non possono acquisire un potere d'acquisto indipendente dal denaro cartaceo.
Il semplice fatto che la gente preferisca avere meno moneta in tasca ed impiegare in misura maggiore la moneta elettronica, non implica una diminuzione della domanda per il denaro fiat, come invece hanno suggerito alcuni commentatori.
Finché le persone scambiano beni e servizi tra loro, ci sarà una domanda di denaro.
Un nuovo modo di impiegare il denaro non significa che il denaro sarà sostituito, o che ci sarà un calo della domanda nei suoi confronti.
Qualora dovesse palesarsi per davvero questa scomparsa della domanda, sarebbe la fine della divisione del lavoro e dell'economia di mercato.
In un documento inedito intitolato "Technology and the Case for Free Banking," David Friedman e Kerry Macintosh sostengono che la nuova tecnologia potrebbe rendere possibile la realizzazione di forme sofisticate di baratto. Questo a sua volta rimuoverebbe completamente la necessità del denaro.
Tuttavia, perché una nuova tecnologia dovrebbe alterare l'essenza del baratto? Come potrebbe guadagnarsi da vivere un professore d'economia se i produttori di cibo, per esempio, non fossero interessati a scambiare direttamente le loro merci con le sue lezioni d'economia?
I tassi d'interesse bassi non stimolano la crescita economica
Ritenere che i tassi d'interesse molto bassi possano rilanciare la crescita economica significa essere convinti che i tassi d'interesse bassi possano innescare la crescita economica.
Il tasso d'interesse è solo un indicatore, per così dire. In un'economia di mercato senza ostacoli rispecchia le preferenze temporali degli individui.
Qualsiasi linea di politica che va a soffocare i tassi d'interesse falsifica i segnali dagli individui ai produttori, mettendo così in moto una cattiva allocazione di ricchezza reale.
Questo a sua volta indebolisce il processo di creazione di ricchezza e la capacità delle imprese di far crescere il loro business e, quindi, l'economia nel suo complesso.
Inoltre la crescita economica non può essere potenziata per mezzo di tassi d'interesse bassi.
L'aumento della produzione di beni e servizi, l'essenza della crescita economica, non può essere realizzato dalla domanda in quanto tale, ma dal miglioramento delle infrastrutture che consente un aumento della produzione di beni e servizi.
(Un abbassamento dei tassi d'interesse e la conseguente cattiva allocazione della ricchezza reale indebolisce il processo di creazione di ricchezza e indebolisce quindi la capacità di migliorare le infrastrutture.)
Se i tassi d'interesse bassi fossero la soluzione ed innescassero una robusta crescita economica, perché i tassi vicino allo zero nelle maggiori economie hanno finora fallito in questa impresa? Inoltre perché i tassi a -5% dovrebbero rilanciare la crescita economica? Perché non a -10%, o forse -20%?
Si noti che l'abolizione del denaro contante implica la rimozione del denaro in quanto tale e, di conseguenza, la distruzione della divisione del lavoro e dell'economia di mercato. È probabile che invece di promuovere la crescita economica, l'abolizione del denaro contante, affinché le banche centrali possano abbassare i tassi d'interesse in territorio negativo, porterà alla distruzione dell'economia di mercato e al massiccio impoverimento economico.
[*] traduzione di Francesco Simoncelli: http://francescosimoncelli.blogspot.it/
 Si veda "The Technology Revolution and Monetary Evolution" di Lawrence H. White in The Future of Money in the Information Age, ed. James A. Dorn (Washington, DC: Cato Institute, 1997), Cap. 2.
 Ludwig von Mises, The Theory of Money and Credit, Cap. 1, pp. 32–33.
 Si veda "E-Money: Friend or Foe of Monetarism?" di George Selgin in The Future of Money in the Information Age (Washington, DC: Cato Institute, 1997), Cap. 13.
A toned body and good sense of humor may be widely regarded as attractive but according to experts, there’s three golden traits that set you apart from others.
A positive attitude, a balanced extroversion and confidence have been revealed as the most attractive traits.
Psychologists have revealed these three personality qualities not only make someone more attractive to the opposite sex but also prove they can get on with anyone.
According to My Domaine, possessing these traits will help you win people over professionally, romantically and platonically.
The first trait – a positive attitude – helps you attract more eligible people.
Studies have found that optimistic people have a longer life span, do better at work and are deemed more socially attractive, too.
Cold and flu season is upon us! If you don’t want to be bogged down by illness (who does?), you should wash your hands diligently, get the flu shot, and try your best to avoid people who are sick around you. But another great trick is boosting your immune system to make sure it has all the fighting powers to ward off illness when it strikes.
An easy way to boost your immunity is with the foods you eat. Healthy food is packed with essential vitamins and nutrients your immune system needs in order to stay strong. When you eat unhealthy foods, you are weakening your immune system so it can’t fight off any impending threats as effectively.
Below you will find the best foods to eat in order to boost your immune system and ward off cold and flu.
Foods that boost your immune system and fight illness
Chicken soup: Chicken soup isn’t just a comfort food from your childhood, it can actually help fight illness. Chicken soup provides you with fluids and offers anti-inflammatory properties that can improve symptoms.
Citrus fruits: Everyone knows you should stock up on citrus fruits as they are packed with vitamin C, which is a great immune booster.
Garlic, onions, and leeks: These foods contain immune-boosting compounds and are natural antibiotics. In a study, some participants received a placebo and the others a garlic supplement. Those receiving the supplement had far fewer cold incidences than the placebo group.
Yogurt: Yogurt contains healthy probiotics and, considering that large part of your immune system is in your gut, it’s important that your gut stays healthy.
Red wine: Red wine has a powerful antioxidant that improves overall health. But don’t assume you should drink a lot to reap the benefits. Drinking red wine in moderation is the key, as too much of it can have detrimental effects on health.
Mushrooms: Mushrooms have long been hailed for their medicinal purposes. They can help cells fight off infections and support a healthy immune system.
Black pepper: Black pepper has compounds that can fight off a fever and relieve pain. For maximum benefits, mix black pepper, ground ginger, and vinegar together for a natural medication.
Add these foods to your daily diet and you can build up a stronger immune system that can help lower your risk of illness.
Reprinted with permission from Bel Marra Health.
Originally published by AmmoLand.com.
I’m not sure whether I’m decisive or not. Can I get back to you on that later?
When it comes to important decisions like whether I should break off hunks from a giant Hershey bar and dip them in peanut butter during my afternoon writing breaks, I’m pretty sure of my decision process. The answer to that question is always an immediate and resounding yes. Because of chocolate and peanut butter. Duh.
When it comes to choosing which gun to carry when I leave the house, things get much harder. The worst part is that there is hardly ever a Hollywood actor around to provide advice and guidance on the matter, so I have to rely on my own limited knowledge.
Here’s the problem. When I can carry a proper full-sized gun, which is almost always given my lifestyle and normal dress code, I frequently get stuck between two of my favorite handguns, a really sweet Springfield Armory 1911 TRP and a really sweet Sig Sauer P229 Legion.
Springfield Armory 1911 TRP
The Springfield Armory 1911 TRP is a top quality handgun. Yeah, I know, it’s a 1911 – a design that roamed the earth with dinosaurs 65 million years ago, but it doesn’t ever seem to show its age. Modeled after the custom shop FBI 1911 Contract gun, it’s a high-end production model that has many of the same design characteristics, but at a more affordable price point. I’ve geared it up a bit with Crimson Trace 20th Anniversary Master Series Lasergrips and have a slew of nice holsters for it including a Galco King Tuk, Clinger No Print Wonder, and a Galco Miami Classic II Shoulder Holster System (for black tie occasions) just to name a few.
The features and gear are nice, but the real reason this one gun enters the daily carry decision competition is that it shoots like a dream. Yeah, it’s nice that it’s pleasurable to shoot, but what I really mean is that I shoot it with a lot of confidence, meaning if I aim at something, I’m pretty sure I’m going to hit it.
Here’s the thing. It has a magazine capacity of seven rounds. Yeah, I know, I can order eight rounders, but I already have a stack of factory mags that have proven to be monotonously reliable, so I’m not going to go through all the trouble and expense to validate new magazines just to get one more cartridge in there. I’ve got a nifty and quite comfortable dual magazine carrier from Blue Force Gear that does a great job of toting two extra magazines on the belt, so that brings my total maximum ammo capacity to 22 rounds including the one in the chamber. That’s if I don’t carry a spare mag in my pocket protector.
Sig Sauer P229 Legion
Also screaming for attention in the carry gun drawer is a Sig Sauer P229 Legion chambered in 9mm. This is another really sweet pistol. It’s a 9mm, but also has a completely different action, using the classic double-action / single-action. While lots of folks hate DA/SA guns because of the transition of trigger feel after the first shot, I like them and have grown to love that revolver-like trigger on the first shot from a draw. I’ve never had any trouble managing the trigger, but admittedly that’s a personal preference thing, and I can certainly understand why some people don’t go for the whole DA/SA deal.
Anyway, this gun shoots like a dream too, and with noticeably less recoil than the TRP, so it helps keep that pesky temporary PTSD to a manageable minimum. With its Grayguns trigger and X-Ray fiber optic / Tritium sights, it’s really, really easy to shoot fast and accurately. I’ve got this one geared up fairly well too with Crimson Trace Lasergrips and a variety of good holsters including another Galco King Tuk, an N82 Tactical, another Galco Miami Classic II Shoulder Holster System for different black tie events, and a new No Print Wonder from Clinger Holsters. Try that last one; you’ll love it. Oh, and it has 15 rounds in each of the three included mags, so when I fill up that same Blue Force Gear mag carrier, I’ve got a total of 46 rounds of 9mm. The grand total is over double that of the 1911 setup.
So there’s the dilemma: Capacity vs Firepower.
The TRP has limited capacity, but since it’s a .45, each of those rounds can wipe out a city block, or at a minimum, Justin Bieber’s Lamborghini. On the other hand, the Legion packs about double the round count, but they’re tiny little 9mm cartridges, hardly adequate for insect control if you listen to the internet commandos.
In all probability, it won’t matter a hill of beans which gun I carry. Yes, we live in a dangerous world, but the odds are pretty darn good that I won’t have to draw either of these guns in a self-defense situation. If it’s a “standard” (for lack of a better word) crime situation, the odds are that the lower capacity 1911 would be adequate. In the very unlikely scenario that I happen to get caught up in one of these terrorist attacks that the news media can’t seem to call terrorist attacks, every extra round will be very welcome indeed.
And keep in mind we’re still waiting on that first gunfight survivor to lament the fact that they had too much ammunition available.
There’s always the option of choosing both big caliber AND capacity with something like this FN FNX 45 Tactical with Trijicon RMR optic…
I guess there’s always the option of carrying both big caliber and capacity. That would be the FNX 45 Tactical, outfitted with a Trijicon RMR red dot sight. It packs 15+1 rounds of .45 ACP and surprisingly, it’s not all that bad to carry. I’ve been using with it an Alien Gear Cloak Tuck inside the waistband holster, and while it’s not as svelte as a Smith & Wesson Shield, it’s perfectly carryable. Yeah, it’s a little bigger and a little heavier, but if you carry a standard full-size gun like a Glock 17/22 or a Smith& Wesson M&P, then it’s not as different as you might expect.
So there’s the problem, and I have no Hollywood elites hanging around to give me advice on the topic. What say you?
Reprinted with permission from AmmoLand.com.