In May 2015, U.S. federal prosecutors filed criminal indictments against fourteen FIFA employees and associates in connection with an investigation by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI) into wire fraud, racketeering, and money laundering which was all centered around bribery. Then 16 more officials were indicted in December 2015. We also see that Super Bowl viewership peaked in 2015 at 115 million and has begun to decline from a major 26-year high. Last year, Super Bowl viewership fell to 111 million, which is actually the Bearish Reversal. So if 2017 comes in under 111 million, this will confirm sports have begun a bear market. This is yet another parallel with the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.
Gaius Appuleius Diocles was the highest paid athlete in Roman history. His earnings were legendary and were derived from earnings, not sponsorships. His career as a charioteer lasted 24 years. He is believed to have been born in 104 AD, began racing at the age of 18, and retired at about 42 (around 146 AD). Diocles may have retired during the reign of Antoninus Pius (138 – 161 AD). The Roman Empire peaked with Antoninus’ successor, Marcus Aurelius (161-180 AD), which was 34 years from Diocles retirement. Sports began to decline.
Indeed, Marcus Aurelius was succeeded by his son Commodus (sole rule: 180-192 AD). Commodus made appearances in gladiatorial combats. Commodus would appear naked in these gladiatorial combats, which resulted in a collapse in confidence and a huge public scandal. This resulted in rumors that he was actually the son of a gladiator whom his mother, Faustina, probably took as some lover at the coastal resort of Caieta. Commodus always won since his opponents always submitted to the emperor and were spared. He charged Rome 1 million sesterces for his contests, no doubt trying to top Diocles’ earnings. Sports in Rome began to decline from 180 AD onward, as did the population of Rome itself. People began to migrate out of the city when Commodus began to rule by himself. If we add 34 years to 2015, that brings us to 17.2 years from 2032. Very interesting indeed.
Diocles won 1,462 races out of 4,257 and placed second in 1,438 races. Diocles is one of the best-documented ancient athletes in history. He was the start of the Roman Circus Maximus, and you can still see the track to this day.
The 1910-1915 translation of Latin pānis et circēnsēs is the source of remark by the Roman satirist Juvenal on the Limited desires of the Roman populace:
“Two things only the people anxiously desire — bread and circuses.”
During his 24-year career, Dicoles is said to have earned 35,863,120 sesterces in prize money according to Professor Peter Struck. Records from Pompeii show a slave being sold at auction for 6,252 sestertii in 79 AD. A writing tablet from Londinium (Roman London), dated to c. 75–125 AD, records the sale of a Gallic slave girl called Fortunata for 600 denarii, or 2,400 Sestertii, who must have been quite beautiful. We can take a Private First Class in the US army today and see he earns $24,984.00 annually. However, food and lodging are included. During the 1st century AD, the ordinary legionary soldier was paid 900 sestertii per annum, rising to 1200 under Domitian (81-96 AD). This was the equivalent of 3.3 sestertii per day, of which half of this was deducted for living costs. That means the net salary for a soldier was about 1.65 sestertii per day. Therefore, his net pay for taking home would have been 429 sestertii annually. That means, Dicoles earned for his 24 career what would have taken a more solid 83,597 years. If we then compare that to the net take-home pay of a US soldier, Dicoles earned $2,088,587,855 for his 24-year career or $87,024,493 per year. The top athlete in 2016, Cristiano Ronaldo, won a contract for $88 million. Of course, he would never earn that for 24 years.
Gaius Appuleius Diocles was born in approximately 104 AD in Lamecum, the capital city of Lusitania, the province of Emerita Augusta in modern-day Portugal. His father owned a transport business so the family was upper-middle-class. Diocles began racing at the age of 18 in Ilerda, which is Catalonia today. His skills were great and he was recruited to race in Rome. There he began racing for the White team. Being a skilled charioteer, Diocles was recruited then by the Green team at age 24. However, he then transferred to the Red Team at age 27, which was the second best team, and he quickly advanced their prestige. It was Diocles who perfected chariot racing with the strategy of holding back his horses to conserve their energy and then making the strategic play of coming from behind to cross the finish line at the last moment. When he raced, Diocles was the featured event that drew in the crowds. Pictured here is a token costing 5, which was needed to enter the races, which was equal to a little more than one sestertius since 4 copper asses equaled one sestertius.
So it would appear that the Sports Cycle is indeed a leading indicator of the decline and fall of an empire. The year 2015 saw FIFA peak, the Super Bowl peak, and even Tiger Woods peaked in golf. Yogi Berra died in 2015 followed by Muhammad Ali, and Arnold Palmer died in 2016. The year 2015 was the peak on our Economic Confidence Model for the government. Will it too completely collapse in 34 years? This will be very interesting, to say the least.
Reprinted from Armstrong Economics.
di David Stockman
C'è una certa rabbia per l'idea che Donald Trump possa essere un degno successore di Ronald Reagan e quindi innescare un boom economico nel mercato azionario.
Infatti ci sono ancora in giro supply-sider, come Stephen Moore, che insistono sul fatto che la cosiddetta Trumpenomics innescherà un boom ed una crescita economica.
Possiamo aspettarci che i venditori ambulanti di azioni a Wall Street credano stupidamente ad una prospettiva così fantasiosa, ma è addirittura imbarazzante quando si tratta di un presunto pro-capitalista e pro-libero mercato come Moore.
La crescita economica che di fatto si verificò durante l'era Reagan, fu il risultato di un imbroglio storico.
Venne alimentata da una massiccia espansione del debito pubblico, seguita da un peccato più grande nei confronti delle leggi di una finanza funzionale. Vale a dire, i soldi stampati da Greenspan monetizzarono il debito pubblico, uccidendo in tal modo i bond vigilantes e rimandando ad un futuro indefinito gli effetti distruttivi derivanti da un aumento del finanziamento pubblico.
Ironia della sorte, siamo arrivati a suddetto "futuro indefinito". Questo vuol dire che per Donald Trump oggi non è più possibile fare quello che Reagan fece allora. Ossia, consentire all'economia degli Stati Uniti di indebitarsi ed incamminarsi verso una falsa prosperità che prima o poi porta ad un'economia mal funzionante ed all'inevitabile rimborso del debito.
La ripresa economica di Reagan sfruttò un bilancio nazionale relativamente pulito. Al momento del suo insediamento, il debito pubblico ammontava a $980 miliardi, solo il 31% del PIL. Alla fine dell'epoca Reagan/Bush arrivò quasi a $4,000 miliardi, un'esplosione in tempo di pace che non si era mai vista nella storia americana.
In entrambi i miei libri, The Great Deformation e Trumped!, ho documentato come sarebbe dovuto già arrivare il giorno della resa dei conti per tutto questo ingiustificabile gozzovigliare col debito pubblico — rimandato più volte sin da quando Greenspan venne messo a capo della FED e scoprì la stampante monetaria nel seminterrato dell'Eccles Building nell'ottobre 1987.
Ben presto Greenspan scoprì che il credito a buon mercato ed un ampio flusso di liquidità nel mercato azionario, lo resero l'eroe della città. Per 19 anni ha gonfiato il sistema monetario ed i mercati finanziari. In sostanza ha parcheggiato il massiccio deficit di Reagan/Bush nel bilancio della FED e delle altre banche centrali di tutto il mondo.
Infatti le altre principali banche centrali hanno iniziato a credere che non avevano altra scelta se non quella di replicare la grande inflazione monetaria della FED. L'alternativa sarebbe stata un'impennata dei tassi di cambio ed un colpo incapacitante alle esportazioni di cui sono diventate dipendenti le economie della maggior parte dei paesi dell'Asia e dei mercati emergenti, come pure i Petro-stati ed altri fornitori di materie prime.
Ma come osservò Herbert Stein, ogni tendenza insostenibile prima o poi tende a fermarsi. A questo punto il debito pubblico oltrepasserà sicuramente i $20,000 miliardi prima che Donald Trump si insedi (ora è già sopra i $19,800 miliardi). Ciò significa che arriverà al 105% del PIL, fermo restando il fatto che ci troviamo in un ambiente economico completamente diverso rispetto a quello del 1981.
In sostanza, Ronald Reagan ha seminato vento e Donald Trump ha ereditato la tempesta. Nel 1981 vi era ancora spazio nel bilancio dello Zio Sam, ma ora è esaurito — sia politicamente, sia finanziariamente.
In questo contesto, mi preme ricordare che la FED è a corto di polvere da sparo. Nel corso degli ultimi tre decenni ha espanso il proprio bilancio e ha monetizzato il debito pubblico, passando da $200 miliardi nel 1981 ai $4,400 miliardi di oggi. Stiamo parlando di un incremento del 22X durante un arco di tempo in cui il PIL nominale è cresciuto solo del 5X.
L'elezione di Trump significherà la fine dello "stimolo" monetario e fiscale che ha alimentato una falsa prosperità per Main Street e una valutazione spropositata degli asset finanziari per Wall Street.
Accolgo con favore questa prospettiva perché le attuali classi dirigenti di Wall Street e Washington hanno portato la nazione sull'orlo della rovina. Il capitalismo clientelare, il racket finanziario, l'aggressione imperiale e le elargizioni sociali finanziate col debito, però, non si eclisseranno nella notte senza far rumore.
Quindi dovrà esserci prima un fallimento epocale delle politiche stataliste affinché siano completamente screditate e le élite che controllano le leve del potere siano finalmente spodestate.
Donald Trump ha definito questo compito "bonificare la palude". Ma gli incorreggibili giocatori d'azzardo a Wall Street hanno escogitato un nuovo trucco: la cosiddetta Trumpflation, un nuovo round di stimolo fiscale tramite tagli fiscali e lavori pubblici.
Peccato per loro, però, che non ci sarà alcun grande stimolo fiscale di Trump, perché i bond vigilantes sono risorti dal loro sonno pluri-decennale.
Questo in prospettiva che la FED abbia smesso di monetizzare il debito pubblico, il che significa che se prima fare front-running nel mercato obbligazionario era un'operazione altamente lucrativa, ora è diventata una trappola finanziaria mortale.
Sin dall'otto novembre scorso sono stati già persi più di $2,000 miliardi nei mercati obbligazionari di tutto il mondo e siamo solo all'inizio — soprattutto se si considera anche l'implosione delle bombe ad orologeria finanziarie che sono state sparse in tutto il sistema finanziario globale attraverso la repressione finanziaria e la falsificazione dei tassi d'interesse da parte delle banche centrali.
Nonostante la momentanea euforia a Wall Street sullo stimolo fiscale, ciò che ci attende è un bagno di sangue fiscale. E non c'è alcuna via di fuga, checché ne dica Stephen Moore con la sua ipotetica e fantasiosa crescita del 4% — una visione che purtroppo contagia l'intero team di Trump, Wall Street e gli economisti supply-sider.
In realtà, tutta la crescita economica possibile in un'economia gravata da $64,000 miliardi tra debito pubblico e privato, è già stata inserita nella linea di base del Congressional Budget Office.
Nel frattempo è bene ricordare che Ronald Reagan cercò di bonificare la palude nel 1981, ma non c'è riuscito. La quota di spesa pubblica in rapporto al PIL non è mai diminuita, la spesa per il welfare state è stata lasciata completamente intatta, mentre quella per la difesa è cresciuta facendo passi da gigante.
Ma Reagan se l'è cavata, perché Washington ha calciato il barattolo — chiedendo prestiti e stampando soldi — per i 35 anni successivi.
Donald Trump, al contrario, non ha nemmeno un vago programma per bonificare la palude — solo slogan buoni su Twitter.
Ha dichiarato di avere già speso $3,600 miliardi dei $4,200 miliardi previsti in bilancio — vale a dire, l'86% della "palude".
Ancora una volta la palude l'avrà vinta. E con la Città Imperiale nel caos e la menzogna dello "stimolo fiscale", è possibile un solo risultato: la bolla finanziaria gonfiata sin dal gennaio 1981 alla fine scoppierà.
E questa volta non sarà possibile rigonfiarla, perché gli stimoli monetari e fiscali hanno completamente esaurito la loro capacità di sfidare le leggi fondamentali dell'economia e di una sana gestione finanziaria.
[*] traduzione di Francesco Simoncelli: http://francescosimoncelli.blogspot.it/
Le Crisi dal XIV secolo ad oggi. Il coinvolgimento delle banche.
1340 RE EDOARDO III D’INGHILTERRA non è in grado di ripagare i banchieri fiorentini che gli avevano presto i soldi per le campagne di guerra. Nel 1345 i banchi dei Peruzzi e dei Bardi falliscono: l’importo è di un milione e mezzo di fiorini (600.000 i Peruzzi, 900.000 i Bardi). Il sistema bancario fiorentino non è più in grado di sopportare un “buco” così ampio e le conseguenze sono catastrofiche. Ovviamente vi è l’effetto domino che trascina con sé gli Antellesi, gli Acciaioli e vari altri banchi, oltre ad un nutrito numero di cittadini fiorentini falliti (350 ad onor di cronaca). Non c’è più liquidità.
1637 LA BOLLA DEI TULIPANI
I primi futures. La bolla dei tulipani ha dato inizio alla prima grande crisi finanziaria tramite l’utilizzo di strumenti finanziari con finalità speculative e coinvolse tutto il sistema economico europeo di quei tempi.
La bolla dei tulipani culminò nella famosa asta di Alkmaar del 5 febbraio 1637, in cui centinaia di lotti di bulbi furono venduti per un ammontare monetario di 90.000 fiorini (l’equivalente di circa 5 milioni di euro), ossia ciascun bulbo fu venduto, al prezzo medio, pari al reddito di oltre un anno e mezzo di un muratore dell’epoca. Poi il crollo. La lobby dei fioristi, gravemente colpita, in questo periodo indusse la giustizia delle Provincie unite olandesi a decretare la trasformazione dei contratti a termine (i futures) in contratti di opzione. In questo modo il detentore del contratto (il fiorista o il commerciante) fu autorizzato a non onorare l’impegno (nei confronti dei contadini o coltivatori) pagando solo una penalità pari al 3,5% del prezzo pattuito, anziché essere obbligato a comprare a prezzi elevatissimi un bulbo che in quel momento aveva un valore di mercato largamente inferiore a quanto previsto nel contratto originario.1711 LA COMPAGNIA DEI MARI DEL SUD – LA “SOUTH SEA BUBBLE” La Compagnia dei Mari del Sud è una delle tante imprese nate all’inizio del XVIII secolo (e sono delle vere e proprie società per azioni) con gli scopi più disparati. In Francia, in Inghilterra e subito dopo la guerra di successione spagnola, si accumularono forti debiti pubblici, a Parigi ed anche a Londra decisero di riscattare le sorti finanziarie dei paesi affidandosi ad una compagnia commerciale: la “Compagnia dei Mari del Sud”, fondata nel 1711 da Robert Harley, conte di Oxford, e da John Blunt anche con partecipazione pubblica. Il valore delle azioni aumentò fino al 1720 anno in cui fallì per mancanza di prospettiva realistica del commercio. Furono in seguito emanate regole.
1717 LA COMPAGNIA DEL MISSISSIPPI Detta anche Compagnia dell’Occidente fu creata dall’economista John Law. La finalità era quella di commerciare con le colonie francesi del nord America, spacciandola come lo “Eldorado” agli azionisti che, in breve nel 1719, portarono alla triplicazione del valore delle azioni. Poi, come in tutte le bolle si sgretolò la fiducia e un giorno di luglio, nel 1720 il valore dei titoli crollò portando la Compagnia al fallimento. Il panico si diffuse e davanti alla Banque Royale e quindici persone persero la vita nella calca.1800 LA BOLLA DELLE FERROVIE INGLESI Il motore trainante dell’economia europea fu la rivoluzione industriale del’800. Con queste premesse il commercio triplicò nel giro di pochi anni. Nel contesto l’invenzione del treno dette una spinta all’innovazione che entrò nel mirino degli investitori. Il primo treno fu brevettato nel 1802 da George Stephenson (anche se il primo modello di veicolo a vapore era stato ideato nel 1797 da Richard Trevithick), ed entrò in funzione nel 1804. Il 27 settembre del 1825 fu inaugurata la prima tratta ferroviaria tra Darlington e Stockton. Nel periodo 1850-1870 la rete ferroviaria inglese triplicò in dimensione ed il fenomeno si estese a tutta l’Europa alla fine del XIX secolo creando la nuova era industriale. Tra il 1844 ed il 1847 vi fu una grande corsa ai titoli delle ferrovie e, come sempre accade, subito dopo il crollo mandando in miseria molti speculatori tra i quali George Hudson detto il “Re delle ferrovie”.
1819 LE SPECULAZIONI IMMOBILIARI
la prima crisi immobiliare è del 1819 la successiva del 1837. E’ interessante valutare come nell’arco di circa venti di anni: l’economia, i paesi e le persone siano in grado di rimuovere completamente dalla memoria l’esperienza passata.
1873 LA CRISI ECONOMICA PIÙ LUNGA CHE SI RICORDI È QUELLA DURATA DAL 1873 AL 1895; 22 (VENTIDUE) ANNI.
1907 U.S.A LA BOLLA DEL CAFFÈ
Il 1907 viene ricordato come l’iniziò della bolla del caffè ed è conosciuto anche come il Panico dei banchieri del 1907, allorché vi fu un repentino il calo di quasi il 50% dei valori del mercato. La motivazione:
manipolazioni dell’alta finanza,
eccessiva speculazione nel settore immobiliare.
La crisi derivante dalla speculazione nel settore del Rame, che vide coinvolti la H.J. Heinze Company che con la United Cooper e la Guggenheim, innescò il crollo. La perdita di fiducia dei correntisti fece scattare corsa agli sportelli (bank run). Non fallirono solo le banche, ma anche le Società Fiduciarie. Un banchiere si distinse fra tutti JP Morgan apportando parecchia liquidità, anche grazie ad un prestito del governo. Forse, potremmo consideralo come l’ideatore dell’attuale “QUANTITATIVE EASING”; riportando così la calma sui mercati.
1929 MARTEDÌ 29 OTTOBRE
La grave crisi economico-finanziaria del 1929, iniziata negli Stati Uniti d’America, ha sconvolto l’economia mondiale dalla fine degli anni venti fino a buona parte del decennio successivo. Devastanti furono le ripercussioni sociali e politiche. John Kenneth Galbraith ha riassunto i fattori di crisi in alcuni punti:
cattiva distribuzione del reddito,
cattiva gestione e struttura delle aziende finanziarie,
cattiva struttura del sistema bancario,
eccessivi prestiti a carattere speculativo,
eccessivo perseguimento del pareggio di bilancio e quindi assenza di intervento statale deleterio in assenza della domanda,
infine, la stretta creditizia contribuì ad accrescere la crisi.
Dopo il periodo di stabilità garantito dagli accordi di Bretton Woods, è utile ricordare:
1970/1980: L’INFLAZIONE, SPAURACCHIO DELL’OCCIDENTE
La parola “inflazione” evoca in tutte le persone che hanno vissuto negli anni ’70 e ’80 un mostruoso accadimento di una gravità assoluta e chiunque avesse proposto un rimedio veniva considerato come un’ancora di salvezza. In realtà l’aumento generalizzato dei prezzi non è un male, né un bene in assoluto, ma come molti fenomeni ha effetti diversi a seconda ceto sociale e da chi lo osserva. Per i lavoratori dipendenti l’inflazione è negativa, ma la la cosiddetta “scala mobile” (in Italia) ha attenuato, con l’adeguamento automatico dei salari, il costo della vita. Per tutti gli altri soggetti è stato assolutamente indifferente. Per chi aveva debiti l’inflazione si è rivelata un aiuto perché nel momento della restituzione del prestito il valore era diminuito in termini reali, mentre per tutti quelli che avevano crediti l’inflazione si è rivelata un danno per le ragioni contrarie di cui sopra.
1973 LA PRIMA CRISI ENERGETICA Il “miracolo economico” degli anni ’60 ha prodotto una crescita impressionante del Prodotto Interno Lordo (PIL): per esempio in Giappone per circa un decennio il P.I.L. è aumentato in media di circa il 10% l’anno, in Italia del 5,4% l’anno. All’inizio degli anni ’70 c’era già un ridimensionamento della spinta del “miracolo economico” ed ecco subentrare prepotentemente l’aumento scioccante del costo dell’energia dando il colpo definitivo a tutte le speranze della continuità di crescita.
1979 BOLLA IMMOBILIARE USA
1979 LA SECONDA CRISI PETROLIFERA
1982 MESSICO INSOLVENTE
1985 BANCAROTTA BANCHE LOCALI USA
Le “Savings and Loans” Banks (Casse di risparmio e credito). Delle 3362 casse 450 Casse sono insolventi. La causa: edilizia e credito al consumo.
1987 LUNEDI’ 19 OTTOBRE CROLLO WALL STREET
L’indice Dow Jones Industrial perde in un solo giorno il 22,61%.
1989 NUOVA BOLLA IMMOBILIARE NEGLI STATI UNITI
1989 BOLLA IMMOBILIARE GIAPPONESE
E’ INTERESSANTE NOTARE CHE: TRA IL 1795 E IL 1998 IL FONDO MONETARIO INTERNAZIONALE HA CONTATO 212 (duecentododici) CRISI.
1992 CRISI VALUTARIA E LA FINE DELLO S.M.E. (Sistema Monetario Europeo)
1994 CRISI DEL MESSICO
Nei primi anni ’90 venne introdotta la liberalizzazione delle transazioni finanziarie facendo affluire, in Messico, ingenti capitali. Per combattere l’elevata inflazione di quegli anni, la valuta messicana si ancorò al dollaro statunitense (peso/dollaro) fissando così i tassi a livelli più elevati per incentivare gli investitori a detenere pesos. L’ancoraggio al dollaro si trasformò in un boomerang, anche per la impossibilità di utilizzare lo strumento della svalutazione facendo così perdere competitività al Paese sui mercati internazionali, con un calo delle esportazioni ed un progressivo aumento del deficit della bilancia commerciale. Tra il settembre 1994 e l’aprile 1995, il peso si svalutò di quasi il 100 per cento (da una parità centrale di poco più di 3 pesos per dollaro a una parità di 6 nuovi pesos per 1-uno- dollaro americano).
1997 LA CRISI DEL SUD EST ASIATICO
La crisi valutaria. In questa crisi valutaria, è stata ben studiata a tavolino da speculatori molto aggressivi, la più colpita fu la Thailandia ancorata: bath/dollaro, trovandosi a dover fronteggiare un debito estero insostenibile. Il sistema bancario tailandese è risultato molto vulnerabile perché si era indebitato in dollari a breve termine ed aveva erogato credito in bath a lungo termine. Nel luglio 1997 la Banca centrale tailandese decise la svalutazione ed in seguito ad una serie di attacchi speculativi, da parte di fondi di investimento internazionali, il bath finì per deprezzarsi di circa il 60%. Per ripristinare la fiducia nel mercato, il F.M.I. concesse prestiti condizionati a “riforme strutturali” con:
tagli alla spesa pubblica,
aumento della pressione fiscale,
maggiore apertura e trasparenza del sistema finanziario,
oltre ad una riforma della legislazione su banche e istituti di credito.
1997 – 98 CRISI DELLA RUSSIA
Contagio a banche ed economia reale. La crisi valutaria innesca inevitabilmente una crisi del debito sovrano russo, che ha pesanti riflessi sul sistema bancario, con una rilevante esposizione verso il debito pubblico domestico accompagnato dalla chiusura del mercato interbancario. Il default degli istituti di credito venne evitato grazie a numerosi interventi a sostegno. Anche l’economia reale registra un calo del P.I.L. pari al 5% nel 1998. Il 2 settembre del 1998 venne definitivamente abbandonato l’ancoraggio rublo/dollaro. Il tasso di cambio passa in pochi giorni da 6 rubli per dollaro a 21 rubli per dollaro.
1997 – 2000 LO SCOPPIO DELLA BOLLA DELLE COSI’ DETTE “DOTCOM”
Una bolla speculativa generata e sviluppatasi attraverso la classica sequenza:
- estrema fiducia da parte degli investitori nelle potenzialità di un prodotto/azienda,
- crescita rapida del prezzo del prodotto,
- evento che fa vacillare le aspettative di importanti guadagni,
- elevati flussi di vendite,
crollo finale del prezzo del prodotto.
La New Economy si contrappone alla Old Economy basata prevalentemente sul settore manifatturiero. In pochi anni si assiste al sorprendente sviluppo di aziende operanti nel settore Internet o nel settore informatico, chiamate appunto Dot-com companies (dal suffisso “.com” -punto com-), agevolate anche dal basso costo del capitale in un contesto di bassi tassi di interesse (tra il 1995 e il 1999 la Banca Centrale degli Stati Uniti riduce il tasso ufficiale dal 6% al 4,75%). IN ITALIA LE AZIONI DELLA TISCALI SUPERANO, PER CAPITALIZZAZIONE, LA FIAT.
1998 SALVATAGGIO DEL FONDO LONG TERM CAPITAL MANAGEMENT
Il fondo fu istituito nel 1994 da John Meriwether ed il suo team della Salomon Brothers basato sui modelli matematici creati dai premi Nobel Robert C. Merton e Myron Scholes. Lo hedge fund aveva in gestione un capitale di 4 miliardi di dollari e li utilizzarono per operazioni di arbitraggio economico, con le leve finanziarie, ed ebbero rendimenti di circa il 40 % annuo. Naturalmente tutte le cose “belle” finiscono e per salvare il fondo nel 1998 intervenne direttamente la Federal Reserve evitando così il peggio.
Verso la fine 1998 forti vendite di obbligazioni brasiliane, pubbliche e private, innescarono pressioni sul tasso di cambio, sopravvalutato rispetto ai fondamentali economici del Paese. Anche in questo caso il rapporto era real/dollaro che si rivela presto insostenibile. Nell’ottobre del 1998 il FMI vara un programma di aiuti finanziari, per un ammontare complessivo di oltre 41 miliardi di dollari, al fine di attenuare gli squilibri finanziari, richiedendo un piano di aggiustamento fiscale. Le risorse messe a disposizione del FMI consentirono di sostenere il real brasiliano solo temporaneamente: nel gennaio 1999 il Brasile abbandona il regime di cambi fissi con il dollaro e nei due mesi seguenti il real subisce un deprezzamento di circa il 40%.
L’ingente debito accumulato nel corso delle lunghe dittature militari ed il rigido ancoraggio del peso/dollaro portano alla crisi. Nel 1999 il PIL argentino diminuisce del 4% ed il paese entra in recessione. Il governo decide di non abbandonare il cambio fisso con il dollaro e questo contribuisce a peggiorare la situazione. Nel 2001 l’incertezza per una svalutazione innesca una corsa agli sportelli bancari (bank run) da parte dei correntisti che ritirano pesos per convertirli in valuta pregiata. Le misure restrittive imposte dal governo per arginare i prelievi provocarono in poco tempo una vera e propria rivolta popolare. La diffusione in Italia dei bond argentini. L’appetibilità dei tassi delle obbligazioni argentine sono presenti nel portafoglio di circa 430.000 clienti retail italiani che ne detengono per complessivi 12,8 miliardi di euro.
2001 FALLIMENTO DELLA ENRON
Fallimento Enron: trucchi contabili, aiuti politici ed aiuti ai politici sono alla base della disastrosa gestione di Enron. Questo grande raggiro è costato molto anche ai fondi pensione statunitensi.
2002 FALLIMENTO WORLDCOM
Il colosso truccava i bilanci, dicendo che guadagnava ma non era vero. Questo fallimento molti lo ritengono l’ENRON al quadrato. Praticamente è un falso in bilancio galattico e ricorda molto la Compagnia dei Mari del Sud.
2007-2009 LA CRISI FINANZIARIA La crisi finanziaria dei mutui subprime ha avuto inizio negli Stati Uniti nel 2006. Le basi della crisi risalgono al 2003, quando si comincia ad aumentare in modo significativo l’erogazione di mutui ad alto rischio, ossia a clienti che in condizioni normali non avrebbero mai ottenuto credito, poiché non sarebbero stati in grado di fornire sufficienti garanzie. I fattori che hanno stimolato la crescita dei mutui subprime sono riconducibili anche alle dinamiche del mercato immobiliare statunitense e allo sviluppo delle cartolarizzazioni (cessione di attività e/o passività, beni e/o debiti di privati o di crediti di una società a titolo oneroso).
La bolla immobiliare. Dal 2000 e fino alla metà del 2006, negli Stati Uniti i prezzi delle abitazioni sono cresciuti in maniera costante e significativa, generando una vera e propria bolla immobiliare. La dinamica era favorita dalla politica monetaria accomodante della Federal Reserve (FED), che mantenne i tassi di interesse bassi fino al 2004, in risposta alla crisi della bolla Internet e all’attacco dell’11 settembre 2001.
La politica monetaria. Tassi di interesse bassi, uguale (=), basso costo del denaro per le famiglie, che richiedevano i mutui ipotecari, finendo con lo stimolare la domanda di abitazioni e alimentandone i prezzi. La bolla immobiliare, inoltre, rendeva conveniente la concessione di mutui da parte delle istituzioni finanziarie che, in caso di insolvenza del mutuatario, potevano comunque recuperare il denaro prestato attraverso il pignoramento e la rivendita dell’abitazione.
La cartolarizzazione immobiliare, i bassi tassi di interesse e la crescita dei mutui subprime sono stati lo sviluppo delle operazioni di cartolarizzazione, ossia la possibilità per gli istituti creditizi di trasferire i mutui, dopo averli “trasformati” in un titolo, a soggetti terzi (le cosiddette “società veicolo”) e recuperando buona parte del credito, immediatamente, che altrimenti avrebbero riscosso solo al termine dei mutui stessi (10, 20 o 30 anni dopo). La cartolarizzazione consente alle banche, di liberarsi del rischio di insolvenza dei mutuatari ed indebolendo l’incentivo e la corretta valutazione dell’affidabilità dei clienti. Le società veicolo, a loro volta, finanziavano l’acquisto dei mutui cartolarizzati mediante l’offerta agli investitori di titoli a breve termine. VERA E PURA SPECULAZIONE!
2008 BOLLA DEL RODIO Il rodio è un metallo appartenente a gruppo del platino. Altrettanto misteriosa fu la bolla del Rodio del 2008 con valutazioni incredibili.
La crisi e le misure di contrasto. A maggio 2010 i Paesi dell’eurozona ed il FMI hanno approvato un prestito di salvataggio per la Grecia di 110 miliardi di euro (30 da parte del FMI). Nel mese di novembre è emersa la crisi del sistema bancario irlandese: il Governatore della banca centrale irlandese ha comunicato che le perdite delle banche domestiche ammontavano a 85 miliardi di euro (pari al 55% del PIL) e le istituzioni europee con la partecipazione del FMI hanno approvato un piano di sostegno per un ammontare pari a 85 miliardi di euro. A maggio 2011, UE, BCE e FMI (la cosiddetta Troika) hanno concesso un prestito di 78 miliardi di euro anche al Governo portoghese.
2017 ULTIMISSIMI DATI
GIAPPONE: rapporto P.I.L./Debito 236%
CINA: rapporto P.I.L./Debito 250%
U.S.A.: rapporto P.I.L./Debito 101%
2016 ELENCAZIONE SPARSA DI DATI E’ da sottolineare che dal 1720 al 2010 si sono registrate circa 55 (cinquantacinque) grandi crisi finanziarie (Kindleberger, 2005; International Monetary Fund, 2010). Le grandi crisi finanziarie ricorrono mediamente ogni 6 anni.Unimpresa: “Ricchezza famiglie calata di 120 miliardi in un anno”.
E’ crollata di quasi 120 miliardi di euro in un anno la ricchezza finanziaria degli italiani!
By all appearances notes SHTFPlan.com’s Mac Slavo, President Trump is doing his damnedest to turn around the economy, revitalize jobs and bring back prosperity. But the larger trends are already in place; the cycle is turning, and the bust cannot be put off forever.
Federal Reserve policy has literally set the country up for collapse, and though the central bank has been very creative in making the impossible work, and putting off disaster, nothing can hold back the flood forever.
Unfortunately, it looks like Trump may be blamed for a financial crisis that he didn’t cause. Analysts, including notably Brandon Smith, may be correct in pinpointing the attempt to use the new and highly controversial president as a scapegoat for the dirty work of the bankers.
The conditions are there, and the consequences were built in when the bubble was still being pumped up. Someday it will burst. When, how, and how bad remains to be seen.
Ron Paul: Economic Collapse Imminent – Trump will Get the Blame Instead of the FED
If former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) is correct, an Economic Doomsday is here. The second financial bubble is going to soon burst, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. That’s because, as Paul stated, the Federal Reserve has set up the American economy for financial collapse for printing trillions of dollars back in 2008 and 2009.
“The Federal Reserve’s policies of printing trillions of dollars back in ’08-09 have locked into place a serious financial crisis at some point in our future,” Paul stated. Going so far as to intimate the financial collapse will occur at least some time in the next two years Paul wrote, “It’s unavoidable, and even Donald Trump can’t stop it.”
Paul said Trump will be the patsy for the supposed impending financial ruin. Just like everyone blamed Obama for the financial collapse in 2009, this time, “Trump will unfairly get the blame,” the former Texas representative wrote. Paul bases his comments on reports he says he’s read which concludes that within the next 18-24 months, the collapse will happen.
The former congressman further explained he’s still holding out hope for Trump to make changes which can help to protect America’s future, but pointed out some of Trump’s staff has direct connections to Wall Street. He’s also concerned Trump’s war against radical Islam is a war Trump cannot win because it’s a war against an ideology, much like America’s failed attempt at defeating communism.
Paul believes Trump’s moving in the right direction to protect America’s interests by canceling America’s involvement in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement with Asia. Paul also hopes Trump will pull American troops out of the at least 7 countries in which it is currently deployed and engaged in military conflict. “I say just come home,” Paul said when addressing having our military presence overseas. “Just get out of there and let the local people sort (the conflict) this out,” Paul said in response to how America should deal with hot spots like the Ukraine and Syria.
Paul believes the former administration’s posturing and threatening of China was misguided and stated we’d be better of trading goods with China, and all of Asia, rather than trading threats. However, as the Free Thought Project pointed out, Trump is already carrying on this dangerous posture — and China is responding.
Paul warns there’s going to be an acceleration of black ops operations by the CIA and Special Forces missions such as the joint special operations command (JSOC) which, as The Free Thought Project has reported, answers directly to the President of the United States.
Paul, who has never supported Trump is concerned about Trump’s ego, wondering if he’s going to act on his impulses to go after the ideology of radical Islam. Paul reminded his viewers that the way to create more jihadists is to keep on provoking the moderate Muslims into becoming radicalized by reacting to U.S. military actions overseas — the exact same thing Trump is doing right now.
Paul praised President Obama’s actions to normalize relations with Cuba and he hopes that with all of the policy decisions the Trump administration is making, that Trump will maintain the policy Obama implemented with Cuba and continue to keep the negotiations open with our closest Southern Caribbean neighbor.
Paul noted that he thinks U.S. policy has created a “failed system” in the country. “All empires end and we’re the empire. It’s going to end and it’s going to be for economic reasons…we’re going to fail because we’re working within a failed system…this is a monetary problem…a spending problem…it’s going to be financial,” Paul emphatically claimed, once again stating the collapse of America is imminent. “We have something arriving worse than 2008, 2009, much worse…It was the fault of the Federal Reserve,” Paul said, adding, the Keynesian economic model contributed greatly to the first bubble burst. Paul said the left will blame Trump for it like the right did to Obama, but he says it’s bigger than the office of the president, and blames the federal reserve and the previous 17 years of governmental spending.
If you think Ron Paul’s comments hold no water, think again. As the Free Thought Project reported last year, even the former chairmen of the Federal Reserve is predicting this crisis.
We are in very early days of a crisis which has got a way to go,” asserted Alan Greenspan to Bloomberg last year. “This is the worst period, I recall since I’ve been in public service. There’s nothing like it, including the crisis — remember October 19th, 1987, when the Dow went down by a record amount 23 percent? That I thought was the bottom of all potential problems. This has a corrosive effect that will not go away. I’d love to find something positive to say…..I don’t know how it’s going to resolve, but there’s going to be a crisis.”
When the man who used to run the very central bank Ron Paul says is responsible for the collapse, also says there’s going to be a collapse – it’s time to pay attention.
* * *
Reprinted with permission from Zero Hedge.
The mindlessness is unbearable. Amnesty International tells us that we must “fight the Muslim ban” because Trump’s bigotry is wrecking lives. Anthony Dimaggio at CounterPunch says Trump should be impeached because his Islamophobia is a threat to the Constitution. This is not to single out these two as the mindlessness is everywhere among those whose worldview is defined by Identity Politics.
One might think that Amnesty International should be fighting against the Bush/Cheney/Obama regime wars that have produced the refugees by killing and displacing millions of Muslims. For example, the ongoing war that Obama inflicted on Yemen results in the death of one Yemeni child every 10 minutes, according to UNICEF. Where is Amnesty International?
Clearly America’s wars on Muslims wreck far more lives than Trump’s ban on immigrants. Why the focus on an immigration ban and not on wars that produce refugees? Is it because Obama is responsible for war and Trump for the ban? Is the liberal/progressive/left projecting Obama’s monstrous crimes onto Trump? Is it that we must hate Trump and not Obama?
Immigration is not a right protected by the US Constitution. Where was Dimaggio when in the name of “the war on terror” the Bush/Obama regime destroyed the civil liberties guaranteed by the US Constitution? If Dimaggio is an American citizen, he should try immigrating to the UK, Germany, or France and see how far he gets.
The easiest and surest way for the Trump administration to stop the refugee problem, not only for the US but also for Europe and the West in general, is to stop the wars against Muslim countries that his predecessors started. The enormous sums of money squandered on gratuitous wars could instead be given to the countries that the US and NATO have destroyed. The simplest way to end the refugee problem is to stop producing refugees. This should be the focus of Trump, Amnesty, and Dimaggio.
Is everyone too busy hating to do anything sensible?
It is very disturbing that the liberal/progressive/left prefers to oppose Trump than to oppose war. Indeed, they want a war on Trump. How does this differ from the Bush/Obama war on Muslims?
The liberal/progressive/left is demonstrating a mindless hatred of the American people and the President that the people chose. This mindless hatred can achieve nothing but the discrediting of an alternative voice and the opening of the future to the least attractive elements of the right-wing.
The liberal/progressive/left will end up discrediting all critics, thereby empowering those to whom the liberal/progressive/left are most opposed.
This is an important book written by Roger Stone — a seasoned (famous/infamous) political operative and a long-time trusted Trump adviser. If you want to understand how Trump thinks, how he calculates politically, you MUST read ROGER STONE’s book. MAKING OF THE PRESIDENT 2016 is also very entertaining — Roger Stone relates his time with Trump over decades, recalling conversations and previous Trump presidential campaigns — even how one day he saved Donald Trump’s life.
Stone gives you an INSIDER’S VIEW of Trump’s campaign — from Trump’s announcement of his candidacy until election night 2016, when Trump finally achieved the presidency he has sought since the 1990s. The book also presents a brilliant analysis of Hillary Clinton and her campaign, and the “Silent Majority” ignored by Hollywood and the mainstream media elites in LA and NYC that elected Trump. If you want to understand why and how HILLARY LOST, the strategy Stone implemented DAY ONE to get Trump into the White House.
The truth is Roger Stone never quit supporting Trump — even when he officially left the campaign. Handing the position of campaign manager to others, Stone strategically positioned himself as “an outsider,” much as Trump positioned himself as an “outsider.” Stone calculated the move to give him more leverage over the media — while remaining in constant touch with Trump and key officers in Trump’s campaign — including Paul Manafort — Stone’s long-time political consulting partner.
Using the MAKING OF THE PRESIDENT format Theodore H. White made famous, STONE takes the reader through the campaign — from the primaries, through the presidential debates, and the closing rallies — weaving a chronological commentary peppered with insightful insights. I truly enjoyed this book and I recommend it to you enthusiastically. If you want to understand modern presidential politics, I strongly urge you to read Roger Stone’s MAKING OF THE PRESIDENT 2016.
Reprinted from Amazon.com.
A Russian joke goes like this: “Question: why can there be no color revolution in the United States? Answer: because there are no US Embassies in the United States.”
Funny, maybe, but factually wrong: I believe that a color revolution is being attempted in the USA right now.
Politico seems to feel the same way. See their recent cover:
While I did predict that “The USA is about to face the worst crisis in its history” as far back as October of last year, a month before the elections, I have to admit that I am surprised and amazed at the magnitude of the struggle which we see taking place before our eyes. It is now clear that the Neocons did declare war on Trump and some, like Paul Craig Roberts, believe that Trump has now returned them the favor. I sure hope that he is right.
Let’s look at one telling example:
US intelligence agencies are now investigating their own boss! Yes, according to recent reports, the FBI, CIA, National Security Agency and Treasury Department are now investigating the telephone conversations between General Flynn and the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyk. According to Wikipedia, General Flynn is the former
- Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency
- Joint Functional Component Command for Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance
- Chair of the Military Intelligence Board
- Assistant Director of National Intelligence
- A senior intelligence officer for the Joint Special Operations Command.
He is also Trump’s National Security Advisor. In other words, his security clearance is stratospherically high and he will soon become the boss of all the US intelligence services. And yet, these very same intelligence services are investigating him for his contacts with the Russian Ambassador. That is absolutely amazing. Even in the bad old Soviet Union, the putatively almighty KGB did not have the right to investigate a member of the Communist Party Central Committee without a special authorization of the Politburo (a big mistake, in my opinion, but never mind that). That roughly means that the top 500 members of the Soviet state could not be investigated by the KGB at all. Furthermore, such was the subordination of the KGB to the Party that for common criminal matters the KGB was barred from investigating any member of the entire Soviet Nomenklatura, roughly 3 million people (and even bigger mistake!).
But in the case of Flynn, several US security agencies can decide to investigate a man who by all standards ought to be considered at least in the top 5 US officials and who clearly has the trust of the new President. And that does not elicit any outrage, apparently.
By the same logic, the three letter agencies might as well investigate Trump for his telephone conversations with Vladimir Putin.
Which, come to think of it, they might well do it soon…
This is all absolutely crazy because this is evidence that the US intelligence community has gone rogue and is now taking its orders from the Neocons and their deep state and not from the President and that these agencies are now acting against the interests of the new President.
In the meantime, the Soros crowd has already chosen a color: pink. We now are witnessing the “pussyhat revolution” as explained on this website. And if you think that this is just a small fringe of lunatic feminists, you would be quite wrong. For the truly lunatic feminists the “subtle” hint about their “pussyhat revolution” is too subtle, so they prefer making their statement less ambiguous as the image on the right shows.
This would all be rather funny, in a nauseating way I suppose, if it wasn’t for the fact that the media, Congress and Hollywood are fully behind this “100 days of Resistance to Trump” which began by a, quote, “queer dance party” at Mike Pence’s house.
This would be rather hilarious, if it was not for all gravitas with which the corporate media is treating these otherwise rather pathetic “protests”.
Entrepreneurship is a hot new study area in academia, with devotees of the Austrian school Peter Klein and his student Per Byland extending the work of Ludwig von Mises, Israel Kirzner, and Murray Rothbard.
I’ve told Professor Klein that I have my doubts about the teaching of entrepreneurship. I’ve known, done business with, been partners with, and now work for an entrepreneur. None of them on a day-to-day basis seem necessarily alert or searching for discrepancies. They just wake up every day wanting to “hit a lick.”
Academics have time for theoretical cogitation, for instance, arguing that entrepreneurship is Kirzner’s “alertness as the fundamental quality of the entrepreneur. Alertness is the entrepreneur’s ability to perceive new economic opportunities that no prior economic actor has yet recognized,” or Rothbard’s “The capitalist-entrepreneur buys factors or factor services in the present; his product must be sold in the future. He is always on the alert, then, for discrepancies, for areas where he can earn more than the going rate of interest.”
Entrepreneurs, in the words of Kenny Wells, wake up every day believing it will be their day. In the new movie “Gold,” Wells (Matthew McConaughey) says “It was April, ’88. I’d lost my house. I lost everything. I was on the balls of my ass, scrambling. Most people would have been dead, but not me. I had a dream. Gold. Just haven’t found it yet.”
The make-up artist for “Gold” did the impossible, making McConaughey look much less than god-like. He’s a pot-bellied chain smoking drunk, with a receding hairline and snaggle tooth. The exuberant Wells grows up in the mining business in Reno, Nevada and explains mining in the simplest way in an early scene to girlfriend Kay (Bryce Dallas Howard) by fishing around in her purse (his arm is the drill) and pulling out nickels and dimes.
Later, as his company struggles to survive, Wells rifles through Kay’s drawers and hocks enough jewelry to buy a plane ticket to see geologist Michael Acosta (Edgar Ramirez) who is also down on his luck but claims to know where the largest gold deposit in the world is. Acosta drags the Wells into the jungle and sells him on the “ring of fire” story.
Those of us who invest in penny mining shares smile and nod as the two look out into the jungle and imagine hitting the motherlode. We’ve heard these stories dozens of times. Then, all of our losers come to mind when we see Kenny’s drunk salesmen, in a Reno bar, working over investors on the phone to buy shares in what amounts to be nothing but blue sky.
“Gold” is loosely based on Bre-X Minerals, a Calgary company that fabricated the largest mining fraud in Canadian history from the jungle of Borneo. The hoax cost 40,000 investors three billion dollars, but as the Calgary Herald reports, “a decade after the gold dust turned to ashes, locals still believe buried treasure lies beneath the jungle — and they are eager to prove it.” Golden dreams die hard.
Building a gold mine costs hundreds of millions of dollars. It’s the best example of what Austrian economists call a higher order capital good. Kenny is ignored by brokerage houses, nearly dies of malaria, but is enough of a believer to hand Acosta two credit cards with a couple thousand dollars in available credit to keep the operation going.
Watching a native pan for gold in the river gives Acosta the idea to “salt” the drill core samples. Suddenly, a mine, and the money to finance it appear and Wall Street Jackals have their hands out to fund the “drunken raccoon that somehow got hold of the Hope diamond.”
What happens (hopefully) to small prospectors who find gold and their shareholders is a large mining company buys them out. Such a wealthy suitor comes along offering to make Wells and Acosta rich, approaching a naked Wells outside a steaming hot tub. Unable to untangle himself from his hubris, Kenny declines the offer and suddenly the riches turn to FBI interviews with friends and neighbors wanting to know where their money went.
Critics are not wild for this movie and neither are audiences. Rotten Tomatoes scores the film 38% with an audience score of 50%. However, few critics are entrepreneurs or have been millionaires one day and have it vanish the next. The film is especially poignant to those with this kind of experience.
The real Michael Acosta was (or is) Michael de Guzman. He was a geologist with four wives and nine children scattered across southeast Asia. He’d have had a fifth if a certain stripper in Toronto had said yes. Ironically, de Guzman did a rendition of Paul Anka’s “My Way” at a karaoke bar the night before climbing aboard a helicopter to fly to the Busang site to explain to representatives of joint venture partner Freeport McMoran why there was no gold in their drill bits. Before he got there, he lept (or was pushed) into the jungle below. His body wasn’t located for days and when found was decomposed beyond recognition.
Michael de Guzman hasn’t been seen since. But a few people believe he is alive and living off the proceeds of Bre-X shares he sold. “I don’t think there is anyone in this town who believes he’s dead,” says John McBeth, a reporter in Jakarta.
It’s quite possible that the truth is stranger than the fiction.
In the end, it is as Mises described in Human Action, “In order to succeed in business a man does not need a degree from a school of business administration. These schools train the subalterns for routine jobs. They certainly do not train entrepreneurs. An entrepreneur cannot be trained. A man becomes an entrepreneur by seizing an opportunity and filling the gap. No special education is required for such a display of keen judgment, foresight, and energy.”
Accepting an award for prospecting, at the time, a high-flying Kenny Wells, said, with a faraway look in his eye, a prospector is someone who holds “the belief it’s out there.” Most days it’s not, he says. But they never give up trying. Thankfully, prospectors and entrepreneurs never do.
We had a caller to the radio show last weekend wanting to know if he could purchase a car these days without start/stop technology. He was concerned about the long-term affect on a car’s engine. As I explained, the technology is still so new, it is hard to say whether it will cause problems or not, but I have had the same concerns.
How They Work
If you are not familiar with this system, simply put, when you come to a stop, like a red light, the engine shuts down, but essential other components continue to run, like the air conditioning system, power steering, brakes, sound system, etc. When you take your foot off the brake to press the gas pedal the engine restarts and you go on your merry way. In a vehicle with a manual transmission, the system operates from the clutch pedal instead of the brake.
Automakers and the engineering community say start/stop technology improves fuel economy by 5 to 10 percent, although I am not confident in their findings. There would have to be some amount of gas savings while your vehicle is not idling, and there would be fewer emissions coming out of your tailpipe.
To put your mind at ease about the mechanics of the start/stop system, vehicles that have the system have heavy-duty starters, and they have larger batteries, which are essential since all the accessories are running strictly on the battery when the engine stops.
Although start/stop systems are fairly new to cars in the United States, it was Volkswagen who debuted it in Europe in 1983. About 10 years ago, Mazda announced a similar system that did not engage and disengage the starter, but it never really came to fruition and proved to be unreliable.
So what are the real-world driving characteristics of this technology? I can tell you that for me, it drives me crazy, especially in heavy traffic. I drive over 100 new cars per year, and for the past year or so, most of the vehicles I drive and review do have the start/stop system. Some automakers, like Ford, have committed to putting it in every vehicle they produce.
One observation I have noticed is that the smaller the engine, the more seamless the feel of the engine turning on and off. With larger engines, you tend to feel the system more. I’ve been in cars that the engine noise going on and off is quite loud, and you actually strongly feel a vibration every time the engine cranks again. I always note in my car reviews when the system really bugs me.
Another downside I have experienced in some vehicles is when the outside temperature is high, the air conditioning system does not work nearly as well with the engine stops. A long traffic light can make the interior temperature uncomfortable. With some vehicles, when the outside temperature is hot, there is no difference in the air conditioner’s output, so if you are in a hot weather area, this is something you would want to pay attention to when test-driving.
Here is the good news: almost every vehicle I drive that has start/stop also has a switch to turn the system off. If you are like me and don’t like this technology, you can turn it off. The bad news is that in almost all cases, you have to disengage the system every time you start your vehicle.
In my personal case, my Range Rover has the start/stop system and over time, I have gotten used to hitting the start button to crank the engine, then I immediately hit the button to turn off the start/stop system.
Right now, with low gas prices, this technology will save most people, on average, less than $50 per year, so you have to make up your mind on whether you choose to use start/stop or not. If it turns out that this technology causes starter failures at a greater rate, there will be no savings.
As I told the caller on the air, I wouldn’t let start/stop be a deal breaker if the car you want has it, but be aware of it when car shopping and test-driving your next new vehicle. If the car you are considering has the system, and you don’t like it, make sure it can easily be turned off.
Reprinted from Car Pro.
As the years go by, it seems that there are just more and more reasons to worry. We get anxious about the actual or even potential problems that haven’t even taken place. One of the big worries many seniors have is the loss of memory. It’s a precious thing, and once it’s gone you can’t get it back really. Forgetting the highlights of your life, forgetting important dates, forgetting the faces of your loved ones even… Losing one’s memory is quite scary, no doubt about it.
But the thing is, worrying about losing your memory is, in fact, a real threat that is very common in the old age. Memory loss is not inevitable, although there is some degree of age-related memory decline, unfortunately, often due to genetic or environmental reasons. And now studies suggest that memory loss worries may be a large factor contributing to one’s cognitive decline.
Worrying about memory loss promotes memory loss
Cognitive decline actually begins as early as your twenties, although the process is quite slow at that time. Your memory and cognitive abilities are at their prime when you’re in your twenties, but after that they start declining, slowly but surely.
Studies have shown that even brief encounters with positive or negative information regarding memory can have an impact on a person’s ability to remember. In one study in particular, one group had to read about memory decline over time, while the other group read that memory and cognition do not undergo significant changes. Both groups completed memory tests after the reading.
The two groups were compared to a group of college students who were still in their prime of cognitive performance. Study participants who read the positive information didn’t score that poorly compared to the college students, whereas those who read the negative information performed very poorly on the memory test.
Whenever older adults experience an episode of forgetfulness, they tend to blame it on aging, reinforcing the notion that their poor memory is due to old age and acknowledging the fact that they are losing their memory. But if want to keep your mind sharp, you should do just the opposite – stop blaming your old age for everything and stop associating every “blank” moment with inevitable memory loss.
There are also ways to help you maintain your memory in the long run. These include getting a proper sleep, avoiding drugs and alcohol, eating a healthy and well-balanced diet, exercising regularly, as well as checking your vision and hearing regularly. Why vision and hearing? When your senses weaken, it becomes increasingly harder over time to retrieve information from your memory.
Reprinted with permission from Bel Marra Health.
Around two thousand years ago Mount Vesuvius erupted, destroying the Roman city of Pompeii and killing an estimated 1,500 people.
Today, a far more sinister supervolcano named Campi Flegrei is lurking underneath Naples in Italy.
Shock research, revealed last month, warned that the “big daddy” of Vesuvius is showing signs of “reawakening” and may be on the brink of going off.
Should it blow in a “big one” eruption, experts told Daily Star Online thousands, possibly millions, of people across Europe would be killed “immediately” from incineration and suffocation.
Dense black ash clouds would block out the sun, plunging the continent into months, if not years, of eerie darkness.
Tens of billions would be instantly wiped off the global economy as air travel, industry and farming would be ground to a halt.
The environment would take a pounding too as a boiling black cloud of hit gas would shoot into the atmosphere, triggering acid rain and accelerating global warming.
Worryingly scientists cannot predict and have no idea when it will next blow its top.
Dr. Luca De Siena, the Geophysics professor at the University of Aberdeen, is one of the leading experts researching the volcano.
Campi Flegrei last blew in 1538 in an eruption lasting eight days that formed a new mountain, Monte Nuovo.
AERIAL VIEW: Campi Flegrei is the largest volcanic feature along the Bay of Naples
Ruger is giving the five-round revolver LCRx line a kick with the addition of a .357 Magnum version, the company announced this week.
Consisting of three main components — a polymer fire control housing, stainless steel monolithic cylinder frame and a fluted stainless steel cylinder — the .357 Magnum version continues to offer the same compact, concealable design as its sister line, the LCR. With an overall length of 6.5-inches and a weight of just 17.1-ounces, the .357 variant easily slips into a holster as a primary or back-up gun.
The wheel gun is equipped with a 1.87-inch stainless steel barrel and exposed, external hammer so shooters can run it in either double-action or single-action mode. Like the standard LCR, the LCRx contains a patented friction-reducing cam that results in a smooth, non-stacking trigger. Double-action trigger pull force builds gradually and peaks later in the trigger stroke which allows for better overall control and a lighter felt pull.
The LCRx’s exposed hammer allows this wheel gun to be fired in either double-action or single-action mode. (Photo: Ruger)
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said it often: the door to cooperation (with the U.S.) “lies ajar.” He has said it repeatedly: that it was not Moscow in the first place that had withered – and then severed – the lines of communication with Washington. And Mr. Putin has been consistent in periodically easing the path to “Moscow” for President Trump.
(The Americans had hinted recently that they might appreciate “a gesture” from the Russians – and they got one: Russia invited the incoming U.S. administration to the Syria talks, at Astana. Moscow made this gesture – even at the cost of almost losing their Iranian ally’s support at the talks.)
Perhaps it is this “door ajar” stance by Mr. Putin that has given rise to the idea, in much of the press, that détente between the two leaders is somehow a “slam dunk” bet — that Trump and Putin are cut from similar cloth, and will somehow end up bashing Islamic radicals together. If that is the consensus, then it is perhaps premature, and possibly wrong.
The door is indeed “open,” and it is possible that the two leaders may indeed conjure up a détente. But it is no “slam dunk” (certainty). And Moscow certainly does not regard it to be “slam dunk” – at all. On the contrary, they are aware that whereas there are areas of common approach, there are also areas of obvious difference – and possible disagreement – between the new U.S. administration and Moscow. The hope for détente ultimately may prove to lie just beyond reach. We shall have to see.
We do not know what President Trump’s foreign policy – in practice – will be. It is not at all clear (intentionally so, in part. But, also because the details have not yet been thrashed out within the team, who are busy with managing a complex transition). Nonetheless, we can tease out, perhaps, a few solid pointers in the wake of the new U.S. President’s inaugural speech:
–Mr. Trump has witnessed America’s political and economic decline over the years (he made plain previously his concerns about America’s deteriorating situation in his 2000 campaign publication).
–He sincerely believes the U.S. to be in crisis – and that without radical, urgent and comprehensive reform, America (qua “America”) will be in peril. He is, as it were, someone who has looked upon decay and corruption and been transfigured by that which he saw: Yes, there was a Cromwellian “New Model Army” whiff to his inauguration speech. He said that he intends to purge – and then to remake – America, no less.
–He has arrayed against him the still intact power of the Deep State, yet he chooses mainly to taunt them. His inaugural speech told the Deep State flatly to prepare for its own disempowerment. He has thereby “burnt his bridges” in respect to any subsequent Faustian sale of his soul. He can only succeed or dramatically fail.
–For all the pomp of an orderly transfer of power on Jan. 20th, the reality behind the trappings is one of a “state of war” between the U.S. President and the still-present Deep State elites (but not necessarily the Deep State’s foot soldiers, many of whom, it appears, voted for Trump).
Artemis Capital presciently describes Trump’s likely political tactics: “Trump knows that if you can’t win [as matters stand], then you change the rules of the game – this is what he has already done with American politics – and what he is about to do to the entire Post-Bretton Woods World Order. If you really want to know a person, watch what they do, and not what they say … or what they tweet … the rants and twitter storms are part of a strategy of media control and distraction.
“Trump’s business career was largely comprised of three core strategies 1) Leverage 2) Restructure 3) Brand … in that order. Throughout the late 1970s and 1980s, Trump rode a generational decline in interest rates and debt binge to purchase a range of high profile real estate projects including the Grand Hyatt (1978), Trump Tower (1983), the Plaza Hotel (1988) and the Taj Mahal (1988). In the 1990s he went through a total of 6 bankruptcies due to over-leveraged hotel and casino businesses in Atlantic City and New York. In the 2000s he pivoted to move away from debt-driven property investments to building a global brand through the ‘Apprentice’ TV show.
“Trump will run the country as he ran his businesses … He will lever, and lever, and lever, and lever … and lever … and then restructure his way to success, or whatever success is defined as, by the broadest measure of popularity at any given time. Trumponomics, if it delivers, will be a supply-side free for all: massive tax cuts, deficit spending to create jobs, financial and energy deregulation, business creation, and trade protectionism – all driving inflation. More importantly, Trump sees bankruptcy as a tool and not an obligation and will have no problem pushing the US to the limits of debt expansion. ‘I do play with bankruptcy laws, they’re very good to me!’ he once said.”
And this is what – in broad outline – we already see. Trump’s tweets are “the destructor” element: Creating negotiating leverage through uncertainty. No one can be sure of Trump’s final aims, or his “bottom line.”
This is his strategy. The tweets are mini-grenades tossed into the mix, precisely to confuse, to distract, and to loosen up the existing “order” – and to make it more susceptible to negotiation – and to subsequent “re-structuring” – should initial negotiations hit a brick wall.
Similarly, with leverage. Trump has leverage: Most significantly, the U.S. is the globe’s biggest buyer of consumer goods; it possesses the world’s reserve currency and controls all the Bretton Woods financial institutions, with all the privileges which that implies. It has the Federal Reserve and can manipulate other states’ currencies; the U.S. “owns” NATO, and the defense protection it does (or does not) choose to confer on other states; it has the biggest military, and is more or less energy independent. Not bad cards.
Trump may be expected to lever, and lever again, all these assets. He will pull out all the stops in the interest of putting America First, and returning jobs and manufacturing to America’s marginalized white middle- and blue-collar classes. He will lever this aim financially (i.e. debt, border taxes and tax incentives) to, as well as politically strong-arm America’s trading rivals.
Brand “America” will be advanced by all the tradecraft that Trump acquired through his “reality” TV show: distractions, surprises, and publicity stunts to create an aura of success – for he is determined to succeed. It is almost as if he feels he can lift the “animal spirits” of Americans, as it were, by willpower, and pithy, one-liner tweets. To an extent, he already has – to judge by polls on business confidence in the U.S.
That hysterical reaction to the travel ban announced Friday is a portent of what is to come if President Donald Trump carries out the mandate given to him by those who elected him.
The travel ban bars refugees for 120 days. From Syria, refugees are banned indefinitely. And a 90-day ban has been imposed on travel here from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen.
Was that weekend-long primal scream really justified?
As of Monday, no one was being detained at a U.S. airport.
Yet the shrieking had not stopped. All five stories on page one of Monday’s Washington Post were about the abomination. The New York Times’ editorial, “Trashing American Ideals and Security,” called it bigoted, cowardly, xenophobic, Islamophobic, un-American, unrighteous.
This ban, went the weekend wail, is the “Muslim ban” of the Trump campaign. But how so, when not one of the six largest Muslim countries — Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Turkey — was on the list? Missing also were three-dozen other Muslim countries.
Of the seven countries facing a 90-day ban, three are U.S.-designated state sponsors of terror, and the other four are war zones. Clearly, this is about homeland security, not religious discrimination.
The criterion for being included in the travel ban appears to be that these places are the more likely breeding grounds for terrorists.
Yet there are lessons for the Trump White House in the media-stoked panic and outrage at the end of his first week in office.
First, Steve Bannon’s observation that the media are “the opposition party,” is obviously on target. While Sen. Chuck Schumer was crying on camera that the ban was “un-American,” the media were into the more serious business of stampeding and driving the protesters.
A second lesson is one every White House learns. Before a major decision is announced, if possible, get everyone’s input and everyone on board to provide what Pat Moynihan called the “second and third echelons of advocacy.” Those left out tend to leak.
A third lesson Trump should learn is that the establishment he routed and the city he humiliated are out to break him as they broke LBJ on Vietnam, Nixon on Watergate, and almost broke Reagan on the Iran-Contra affair.
While the establishment may no longer be capable of inspiring and leading the nation, so detested is it, it has not lost its appetite or its ability to break and bring down presidents.
And Trump is vulnerable, not only because he is an envied outsider who seized the highest prize politics has on offer, but because his agenda would cancel out that of the elites.
They believe in open borders, free trade, globalization. Trump believes in securing the Southern border, bringing U.S. industry home, economic nationalism, “America First.”
They want endless immigration from the Third World to remake America into the polyglot “universal nation” of Ben Wattenberg’s utopian vision. Trump’s followers want back the America they knew.
Our foreign policy elites see democratization as a vocation and an autocratic Russia as an implacable enemy. Trump instead sees Moscow as a potential ally against real enemies like al-Qaida and ISIS.
There is another reason for the reflexive howl at Trump’s travel ban. The establishment views it, probably correctly, as the first move toward a new immigration policy, built on pre-1965 foundations, and rooted in a preference for Western-Christian immigrants first.
When the Times rages that “American ideals” or “traditional American values” are under attack by Trump, what they really mean is that their ideology and agenda are threatened by Trump.
We are headed for a series of collisions and crises, and what has happened in Europe will likely happen here. As the Third World invasion and growing Islamization of the Old Continent — which the EU has proven unable to stop — has discredited centrist parties and continuously fed a populist-nationalist uprising there, so may it here also.
And Trump not only appears to have no desire to yield to his enemies in politics and the media, he has no choice, as he is now the personification of a surging Middle American counterrevolution.
Undeniably, there are great numbers of Americans who agree with the libels the Times showered on Trump and, by extension, his backers whom Hillary Clinton designated “the racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic … deplorables.”
But by whatever slurs they are called, Middle Americans seem prepared to fight. And history shows that such people do not calmly accept the loss of what is most precious to them — the country they grew up in, the country they love.
They have turned to Trump to lead them. Why should he not, having been raised up by them, and knowing in his own heart what the establishment and the media think of him and would do to him?
Ten days in, and already it is “Game On!”
di Frank Hollenbeck
Non è un eufemismo dire che sin dal 2008 la politica economica degli Stati Uniti è stata di stampo keynesiano. I tassi d'interesse sono vicini allo zero e il debito nazionale si attesta a quasi $20,000 miliardi. Questo è un risultato diretto dell'applicare la prescrizione politica raccomandata nella Teoria Generale di Keynes. Un giorno il suo libro sarà probabilmente accostato al Manifesto del Partito Comunista di Karl Marx, come opere che hanno generato false nozioni riguardo la realtà con conseguenze disastrose.
Keynes ha derivato la maggior parte delle sue conclusioni contro il capitalismo eliminandone la caratteristica essenziale: regolazione dei prezzi per allocare le risorse economiche scarse laddove la società lo ritiene più urgente. La sua teoria presuppone una rigidità dei prezzi.
Supponiamo che qualcuno sostenga che la gravità non ci tiene ancorati al pianeta come disse Newton, e che la gente galleggerebbe nello spazio a meno che non si costruiscano grandi reti per salvare l'umanità. Una tale persona verrebbe molto probabilmente trasportata d'urgenza in ospedale – a patto che non sia keynesiano, visto che i pazzi ormai sono a piede libero. Presumendo un'inflessibilità dei prezzi, Keynes concluse che la disoccupazione poteva essere una presenza fissa in un'economia capitalista e che la contraffazione legale (politica monetaria), o la formula "rubare a Pietro per pagare Paolo" (politica fiscale), potevano essere politiche economiche sane. Invece di essere additato come un economista ignorante e sciroccato, a Keynes è stato dato lo status di genio economico.
Perché un tale libro, scritto male come la Teoria Generale di Keynes, è così acclamato? Ha innumerevoli errori di logica e le definizioni sono sempre mutevoli (ad esempio risparmio, efficienza marginale del capitale e tassi d'interesse). La risposta è semplice: i politici mettono Keynes su un piedistallo perché ha dato loro il fondamento teorico per giustificare politiche che precedentemente venivano ridicolizzate dagli economisti classici.
Prendete, ad esempio, il concetto di moltiplicatore fiscale: non esiste! Esiste invece solo nella mente illogica di professori e scrittori keynesiani. Dal momento che questo concetto è incorporato in ogni libro universitario, cerchiamo di farne una breve ricapitolazione: se lo stato spende $1, qualcuno riceverà $1, e ne spenderà una parte, diciamo 80 centesimi, che verranno ricevuti da qualcun altro che ne spenderà solo una frazione, e così via. I keynesiani, poi, introdurranno una bella formula e diranno che in questo caso il moltiplicatore è 5 e $1 speso dallo stato creerà $5 in reddito nazionale.
Ma la domanda sorgerebbe spontanea: come ha fatto ad essere finanziato il singolo dollaro iniziale di spesa? Qui il keynesiano ha una risposta precisa: il moltiplicatore del budget all'equilibrio. Se lo stato spende $1 e tassa per $1, la spesa sale lo stesso di 20 centesimi dal momento che la persona che è stata tassata avrebbe speso solo 80 centesimi. Il moltiplicatore in questo caso è di $1. A questo punto la maggior parte dei professori proseguirebbe con un altro argomento, inosservato da parte degli studenti incauti e che rappresenta l'assunto insidioso alla base di questa conclusione teorica.
Il concetto di moltiplicatore vuole far credere che i 20 centesimi sono stati risparmiati, o trattenuti in contanti – l'equivalente di stipare denaro sotto il materasso. Se, invece, l'importo tassato andasse a ridurre il risparmio, $1 di spesa pubblica scalzerebbe $1 di consumi e spesa per investimenti (risparmio); il moltiplicatore sarebbe pari a zero, e la spesa pubblica e la politica di bilancio non avrebbero un'influenza diretta sulla produzione attraverso la domanda aggregata. Naturalmente se prendessimo in considerazione l'offerta, il moltiplicatore sarebbe negativo. Come disse Murray Rothbard, si tratta di un trasferimento di "risorse dal [settore privato] produttivo al settore pubblico parassitario." I $20,000 miliardi di debito pubblico attuali riflettono la spesa pubblica, o risorse reali che sarebbero state messe a miglior uso se fossero state lasciate in mani dei privati.
Keynes sosteneva anche la cosiddetta "eutanasia del rentier", con l'abbassamento dei tassi d'interesse a zero. I suoi fedeli seguaci nell'Eccles Building a Washington hanno seguito il suo consiglio alla lettera. Eppure, come disse Mises, questo punto di vista riguardo i tassi d'interesse è di una ingenuità insuperabile.
Un professore di microeconomia spiegherà ai suoi studenti come il controllo dei prezzi crei una divergenza tra ciò che la società vuole e quello che produce – la conseguenza non intenzionale è rappresentata da laghi di vino, montagne di burro e disoccupazione rampante. Ciononostante questo economista schizofrenico proseguirà dicendo che giocherellare con il prezzo più importante del capitalismo, il tasso d'interesse, risolverà i problemi economici della società.
La realtà è che l'economia non è come una macchina e i tassi d'interesse non sono come il pedale dell'acceleratore. I tassi d'interesse giocano un ruolo chiave nell'allineamento tra domanda e offerta nel tempo. Più a lungo s'interferisce con i tassi d'interesse, maggiore sarà il disallineamento e maggiore sarà l'aggiustamento inevitabile e necessario per riallineare l'offerta con la domanda.
Attualmente ci troviamo in una buca profonda. Questa linea di politica mal concepita porterà al cosiddetto crack-up boom che Mises aveva previsto e sarà molto peggio del 2008. Eppure non abbiamo il consenso intellettuale affinché possiamo uscirne. Quel che è peggio è che la prossima crisi fomenterà senza dubbio più richieste per implementare quelle strategie che fino ad ora hanno fallito. Agli economisti di oggi è stato fatto il lavaggio del cervello affinché credessero che l'unica soluzione fosse una maggiore spesa pubblica e una maggiore stampa di denaro. Il fine partita sarà decretato dall'iperinflazione, la quale porterà a dittature. Eppure c'è un'alternativa migliore, e inizia con:
- Ristabilire una moneta sonante;
- Porre fine alla riserva frazionaria;
- Mettere fine alle banche centrali.
[*] traduzione di Francesco Simoncelli: http://francescosimoncelli.blogspot.it/
 La definizione corretta di risparmio monetario è trasferimento dei crediti da un gruppo all'altro. Questa è la definizione che ritroviamo nella teoria dei tassi d'interesse nei fondi mutuabili. Il risparmiatore non applica le sue rivendicazioni e sarà in grado di consumare più beni e servizi in futuro. Egli effettua questo trasferimento a favore di quegli investitori che ne faranno miglior uso, acquistando impianti ed attrezzature che poi produrranno beni e servizi in futuro. Keynes ha creato una grande confusione quando ha usato la parola "risparmio" per riflettere due atti: il trasferimento dei crediti (definizione classica di risparmio) e il trattenimento dei crediti, o accaparramento.
 "Riguarda l'interesse come compensazione della rinuncia temporanea al denaro nel senso più ampio – un punto di vista di un'ingenuità insuperabile. I critici scientifici erano perfettamente giustificati quando lo trattavano con disprezzo; non vale nemmeno la pena nominarlo. Ma è impossibile astenersi dal sottolineare che queste stesse opinioni sulla natura dell'interesse occupano un posto importante nel giudizio popolare, e che vengono continuamente proposte e consigliate come base per le misure di politica bancaria."
Review of John Charles Chasteen, Getting High: Marijuana through the Ages (Rowman & Litlefield, 2016), viii + 157 pgs., hardcover.
This is a fascinating and important book. Fascinating because of all the interesting historical details about marijuana it provides; important because it has the potential to educate and change the hearts and minds of those who support the government’s war on marijuana.
The author, John Charles Chasteen, is actually a Latin American scholar and professor of history at UNC-Chapel Hill. He has written a number of books on Latin American history, and is an award-winning editor and translator of Latin American fiction and nonfiction, from both Spanish and Portuguese.
“This book,” as explained by the author, “looks at marijuana in the long view of world history. It asks who used it, how, and why. Unlike most published versions of the drug’s history, it places marijuana within larger historical patters, such as migration, colonialism, and religion.”
There is a lot of information about the nature of marijuana and its global history packed into the book’s 157 pages. The book has a number of other good features as well. Each chapter is divided into sections. The sections are listed in the table of contents. The book ends with a glossary, an annotated list of sources for each chapter, and an index. There are some helpful illustrations in the book as well.
Chapter 1, which shares its name with the book’s title, can be viewed as an introduction to the book. Chasteen relates how the effects of marijuana are variable and subjective. The same dose can even affect “the same person differently at different moments.” Cannabis has historically always had a medical role in Europe and China. We now know that marijuana’s active ingredients—cannabinoids—“have molecular shapes that fit receptors in our body’s hormonal communication systems, regulating mood and appetite, among other things.” Different strains of cannabis, and even individual plants, “have differing endowments of cannabinoids.” Cannabinoids “have few deleterious side effects,” unlike the drugs that Americans consume in massive proportions. The prohibition of marijuana “has become a bonanza for organized crime.” Yet, “federal prohibition of marijuana lacks any logical basis.” Chasteen has a great discussion in this chapter on the characteristics of marijuana and hemp and explains how they are grown and cultivated. He also here compares and contrasts marijuana and alcohol.
In chapter 2, “American Century,” Chasteen surveys the rise of marijuana use in the United States. Marijuana smoking began in the United States on the eve of World War I. Migrant workers from Mexico brought marijuana to Texas, California, the mining camps of the Rocky Mountain states, and eventually “into the industrializing cities of the upper Midwest.” Marijuana “appeared by 1920 among the black working class in New Orleans, a city in close merchant shipping contact with Mexico.” Chasteen highlights the connection between marijuana and jazz music, the Beat generation writers, the counterculture movement, and rock musicians. By 1930, marijuana had been prohibited by law in many states “with significant populations of Mexican descent.” On the federal level, it was a veteran Prohibition-enforcement agent, Harry Anslinger, who is almost single-handedly responsible for the demonization of marijuana in America. This in spite of a 1925 U.S. Army study that “found marijuana use to be relatively harmless.”
Chapter 3, Atlantic World,” is the history of cannabis in Latin America, from where it entered the United States. Cannabis is “not native to the Americas.” No form of it even existed “in the Western Hemisphere before European colonization created an interconnected ‘Atlantic World’ around 1500.” Hemp “played a crucial supporting role in one of global history’s defining events: European seaborne exploration and colonization of America, Africa, and parts of Asia.” When the slave trade began, “Africa south of the Congo River was the only part of the Atlantic World where people used cannabis psychoactively.”
Chapter 4 tells the story of medieval hashish, which is not to be identified with the pungent resin concentrated today from female cannabis flowers. Medieval hashish, which was described as “leafy,” was simply fully mature buds, “without seeds.” Before it was smoked (after c.1500), it was eaten. I did not realize that “marijuana must be cooked to activate its cannabinoids before eating.” A hashish-infused drink was the intoxicating beverage of choice for observant Muslims who shunned alcohol.
In chapter 5, “Asian Origins,” Chasteen traces the origins of cannabis back to prehistoric Central Asia. Psychoactive use of cannabis on and around the Eurasian steppes “is the oldest of which we have direct evidence.”
Chapter 6, “Epiphanies,” serves as the book’s conclusion. I note the following:
Psychoactive cannabis figures in global history mostly as an entheogen, employed for its euphoriant properties than for its visionary epiphanies.
The widespreac use of marijuana as a recreational drug is rare and recent in world history.
Recreational use, which draws on marijuana’s euphoriant qualities rather than its hallucinogenic qualities, has been strikingly less important in global history.
Where cannabis has been used recreationally, it has been as a poor man’s drug, a more affordable substitute for ethanol, often adopted by people who are socially and ethnically marginalized.
The United States (with an annual prevalence around 13 percent) is not the world capital of marijuana cultivation and use.
Cannabis drugs have never been for everybody. Instead, they have consistently been used by people seeking meditative insights, a stimulus to creativity, direct access to the spirit world, or the experience of transcending earthly cares to enter a mystical union with God and the cosmos.
I highly recommend Getting High: Marijuana through the Ages to anyone who wants to know more about just what marijuana is and where it came from and to everyone who thinks the government should continue its war on this unusual and versatile plant.
At the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland, Joseph Stiglitz the Nobel Prize-winning economist argued in favor of phasing out currency and moving toward a digital economy.
The view expressed by Stiglitz is similar to that of former IMF chief economist Kenneth Rogoff who has been arguing for many years that there is an urgent need to remove cash from the economy. It is held that cash provides support to the shadow economy and permits tax evasion. Some estimates suggest this could be up to $700 billion in the US.
The Governor of the Bank of England — Mark Carney — has expressed similar views in support of the removal of cash.
Yet another justification for its removal is that in times of economic shocks, which push the economy into recession, the run for cash exacerbates the downturn — i.e., it becomes a factor contributing to economic instability by facilitating a cash-induced savings surge rather than an increase in demand.
Other arguments go further, including the position that in the modern world most transactions can be settled by means of electronic funds transfer. Money in the modern world is an abstraction, or so it is held.
But is it true that money is an abstraction?
The Emergence of Money
Money emerged because barter could not support the market economy. A butcher who wanted to exchange his meat for fruit might not have been able to find a fruit farmer who wanted his meat, while the fruit farmer who wanted to exchange his fruit for shoes might not have been able to find a shoemaker who wanted his fruit.
The distinguishing characteristic of money is that it is the general medium of exchange. It has evolved as being the most marketable commodity.
On this Mises wrote,
There would be an inevitable tendency for the less marketable of the series of goods used as media of exchange to be one by one rejected until at last only a single commodity remained, which was universally employed as a medium of exchange; in a word, money.1
Similarly, Rothbard wrote that,
Just as in nature there is a great variety of skills and resources, so there is a variety in the marketability of goods. Some goods are more widely demanded than others, some are more divisible into smaller units without loss of value, some more durable over long periods of time, some more transportable over large distances. All of these advantages make for greater marketability. It is clear that in every society, the most marketable goods will be gradually selected as the media for exchange. As they are more and more selected as media, the demand for them increases because of this use, and so they become even more marketable. The result is a reinforcing spiral: more marketability causes wider use as a medium which causes more marketability, etc. Eventually, one or two commodities are used as general media — in almost all exchanges — and these are called money.2
Since this general medium of exchange emerges from among a potentially wide range of commodities, money is, as such, a commodity.
According to Rothbard,
Money is not an abstract unit of account, divorceable from a concrete good; it is not a useless token only good for exchanging; it is not a “claim on society”; it is not a guarantee of a fixed price level. It is simply a commodity.3
Moreover, according to Mises, “an object cannot be used as money unless, at the moment when its use as money begins, it already possesses an objective exchange value based on some other use”4
Why? According to Rothbard:
In contrast to directly used consumers’ or producers’ goods, money must have pre-existing prices on which to ground a demand. But the only way this can happen is by beginning with a useful commodity under barter, and then adding demand for a medium to the previous demand for direct use (e.g., for ornaments, in the case of gold).5
In short, money is that for which all other goods and services are traded. This fundamental characteristic of money must be contrasted with those of other goods. For instance, food supplies the necessary energy to human beings, while capital goods permit the expansion of infrastructure that in turn permits the production of a larger quantity of goods and services.
Through an ongoing selection process over thousands of years, people settled on gold as money — gold served as the monetary standard. In today’s monetary system, the core of the money supply is no longer gold but coins and notes issued by the government and the central bank. Consequently, coins and notes constitute the standard money, known as cash, that is employed in transactions. Goods and services are sold for cash.
At any point in time individuals can keep their money either in their wallets, under their mattresses, in a safe deposit box or stored — deposited — in banks. In depositing money, a person never relinquishes ownership. No one else is expected to make use of it. When Joe stores his money with a bank, he continues to have an unlimited claim against it and is entitled to take charge of it at any time. Consequently these deposits, labeled demand deposits, form part of money.
At any point in time part of the stock of cash is stored, that is, deposited, in banks.
Thus if, in an economy, people hold $10,000 in cash, then the money supply of this economy is $10,000. But if some individuals have stored $2,000 in demand deposits the total money supply will remain $10,000: $8,000 cash and $2,000 in demand deposits with banks. Should all individuals deposit their entire stock of cash in banks then the total money supply would remain $10,000 — all of it held as demand deposits.
This must be contrasted with a credit transaction. Credit always involves the creditor’s purchase of a future good in exchange for a present good. As a result, in a credit transaction, money is transferred from a lender to a borrower. Such transactions include savings deposits. These are in fact loans to the bank. With these deposits the lender of money (the depositor) relinquishes to the bank his claim over the money for the duration of the loan. These simple credit transactions, however, — i.e., loans which are not created by the banks as multiples of funds on deposit — do not alter the amount of money in the economy. If Bob lends $1,000 to Joe, the money is transferred from Bob’s demand deposit or from Bob’s wallet to Joe’s possession.
These savings deposits — to be contrasted with demand deposits — therefore should not be included as money.
The Digitization of Money
Does the digitization of money change this?
Electronic money is not money as such but a particular way of using existing money. For instance, by means of electronic devices Bob can transfer his $1,000 to Joe. He could also transfer the $1,000 by means of a check written against his deposit in Bank A. Joe in turn will now place the check with his bank, say, Bank B. After the clearance, the money will be transferred from Bob’s account to Joe’s demand deposit in Bank B.
Note that all these transfers, either electronically or by means of checks, could take place because the $1,000 in cash physically exists. Without the existence of the $1,000 nothing could be transferred.
Now, if Bob pays for his groceries with a credit card he in fact borrows from the credit card company such as MasterCard. For instance, if he buys $100 worth of groceries using MasterCard, then MasterCard pays the grocer $100. Bob, in turn, after one month or earlier repays his debt to MasterCard in whole or part. Again, all this could not have happened without the existence of cash. After all, what exactly has been transferred?
The fact that cash per se was not used in the above example doesn’t mean that we don’t require it any longer. On the contrary, the fact that it exists enables various forms of transactions to take place via sophisticated forms of technology such as electronic or digital transfers. These various forms of transfer are not money as such but simply a particular way of moving money. The underlying commodity being used as the medium of exchange is still cash — just the means of transferring that cash is different in a digital world.
Importantly, the digitization of the process of transferring money has been conflated in popular usage with “digital money.” As the above logic demonstrates, they are two different things.
The Removal of Money — the Case of India
Any attempt to totally remove cash — i.e., money — implies the destruction of the medium of exchange and, ultimately, the market economy. The recent experiment in India to remove large denomination notes has caused serious havoc. Toward the end of last year Prime Minister Modi surprised his country by announcing the banning of 500 and 1,000 rupee notes, with some estimating that around 86 percent of all cash in circulation in India was no longer considered as legal tender.
Any policy directed at phasing out cash in order to stop the shadow economy has the effect of preventing individuals from employing their economy’s medium of exchange. This, however, is unlikely to succeed as individuals will always find various other goods or services to serve as money.
If legal tender notes were to be banned then people would simply use something else. The argument that removing cash will eliminate tax evasion and crime is doubtful. Tax evasion would be reduced if the incentives for it — high taxes based on big government — were removed.
But what of the claim that the existence of cash allows “panic withdrawal” during economic crises which therefore exacerbates those crises?
The fact that during an economic crisis people run to withdraw their money indicates that they have lost faith in the banking system — perhaps for good reasons — and would like to have their money back. The recent Greek “debt crisis” is a textbook example, and indeed bank depositors were quite correct in their assessment of the state of their banks.
Here it is necessary to consider the multiplication of “money” in a modern, fractional reserve banking system. In the modern world, banks are allowed — indeed encouraged — to lend multiples of funds on deposit, i.e., create money out of nothing. When this happens it is indeed likely that a mass withdrawal of cash deposits can result in a magnified effect on the economy through forced shrinkage in the credit system and the resulting collapse of the economic activities that relied on that artificially created money.
What is important to note, however, is that the problem in this case is not the existence of cash but rather the artificial creation of additional money by the commercial banks through fractional reserve lending — mostly with the support of governments. Cash doesn’t cause crises — central bank-enabled fractional reserve lending does.
Irrespective of the level of technological advancement of the economy, the essence of money can never change — it is that against which we exchange goods and services. It is only the (erroneous) definition of money as an empty abstraction that makes it possible to conclude that cash can be phased out of the economy with some hypothetical benefits. This is, in effect, what Stiglitz was suggesting in Davos.
There are other issues associated with the digitization of money flows which warrant comment.
First, there is the problem that the mandatory switch from physical money to money held as deposits within banks will deprive people of the privacy they may wish in the allocation of their financial resources.
Second, once all cash is transferred to the banking system, there is the real risk that control over that money is progressively ceded to that system and to the governments which thrive upon it. Political or consumption activities that are unpopular with government and/or commercial interests — especially in an environment of growing powers of the “security state” — could result in retributive action via restrictions on access to those monetary balances.
Third, in a purely digital world it would be impossible to withdraw physical money should people believe that their bank (or the banking system as a whole) was at risk of collapse. This could potentially lock people on board a sinking ship, or at least remove the ability of people to make their own judgments and vote with their monetary feet.
The compulsory switch to purely digital cash could well become yet another facet of the growing tendency toward the further centralization of state power and the decline in individual liberty.
3.Ibid., pp. 27–28.
4.Mises, The Theory of Money and Credit, p. 131.
5.Rothbard, What Has Government Done to Our Money?, p. 9.
Note: The views expressed on Mises.org are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute.
It doesn’t take much of a trigger to push extremely large crowds of very angry protesters into committing acts of rioting and violence. And rioting and violence can ultimately lead to widespread civil unrest and calls for “revolution”. The election of Donald Trump was perhaps the single most galvanizing moment for the radical left in modern American history, and we have already seen that a single move by Trump can literally cause protests to erupt from coast to coast within 48 hours. On Friday, Trump signed an executive order that banned refugees from Syria indefinitely and that placed a 90-day ban on travel to the United States for citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Within hours, protesters began to storm major airports, and by Sunday very large crowds were taking to the streets all over the country…
From Seattle to Newark, Houston to Boston, hundreds jammed airport terminals — lawyers, immigration advocates, ordinary citizens compelled to the front lines, many refusing to leave until those who had been detained by U.S. Customs had been freed or had obtained legal counsel.
On Sunday, the movement caught fire and demonstrations and rallies erupted in communities across the U.S. from city halls to airports to parks. In the nation’s capital, the site of the march that drew a crushing 500,000 people Jan. 21, Pennsylvania Avenue was shut down Sunday as thousands trekked from the White House to the U.S. Capitol. An energized crowd stopped outside Trump’s showcase hotel along the avenue to shake fists and chant “shame.”
You can see some really good pictures of the protests going on around the nation right here.
As I was going through articles about these protests today, I remember one woman holding up a sign that said: “Remove Trump By Any Means Necessary”.
It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out what she was suggesting.
Visions of violence are dancing in the heads of these very frustrated people, and they are being egged on by top members of Congress such as Chuck Schumer…
‘These orders go against what America has always been about,’ Schumer told the crowd in Battery Park according to the New York Daily News. ‘The orders make us less humanitarian, less safe, less American and when it comes to making us less safe people forget this, that’s why so many of our military, intelligence, security, and law enforcement leaders are opposed to this order and all those like it.’
Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of Trump’s presidential rival, Hillary, tweeted a picture from the rally. It was captioned: ‘Yes. We will keep standing up for a country that matches our values and ideals for all. #NewYork #NoBanNoWall.’
On Sunday, President Trump attempted to clarify what his executive order was really about and make it clear that it was not a ban on all Muslims. The following comes from CNN…
President Donald Trump insisted Sunday his travel ban on certain Muslim-majority nations would protect the United States from terrorists, after a weekend of outrage and confusion over the move.
In an afternoon statement, Trump wrote the country would continue showing “compassion to those fleeing oppression.”
Unfortunately, polls show that somewhere around a third of the country greatly dislikes Trump, and those people are more than ready to believe that Trump is a racist bigot that hates all Muslims.
But the truth is that Trump does not hate any group of people. His target is a simply Islamic terror, and he is actually pro-immigration as long as it is legal immigration.
Let us not forget that his wife is a legal immigrant.
I know that Trump is quite eager to get things done, but putting out this executive order at this particular moment was definitely a case of poor timing.
We are a nation that is deeply, deeply divided, and now this latest controversy threatens to divide us even further.
When I was out earlier today, I saw a pro-Trump billboard that some business owner had put up that was urging liberals to quit their whining.
On the surface that may sound funny, but it definitely doesn’t do anything to bring us together.
If you give anger enough fuel, eventually it leads to violence. I am certainly not suggesting that we should ever compromise on what we believe, but what I am suggesting is that there is a wise way to handle things and an unwise way to handle things.
Someday, widespread civil unrest is going to sweep across the United States and major American cities will burn.
My hope is that we can put this off for as long as possible.
In fact, I sincerely hope that this will not happen at all during the Trump/Pence era.
But you would have to be blind not to see the hate, anger, and frustration that are all growing like cancer in the hearts of our young people.
This is a time for the peacemakers. If there are any left in Washington, we need them to rise up now and try to bring healing before it is too late.
Reprinted with permission from The Economic Collapse.
Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, is a puppet of the country’s deeply-embedded elites, known in Mexico as los Corruptos.
Last week they shoved him out on stage to broadcast a message to Mexican illegals in the United States.
The message was simple:
FOR GOD’S SAKE, DON’T COME BACK! WE DON’T WANT YOU!
Yes, Trump’s simple promise to enforce existing U.S. law has sent the Corruptos into chaos.
True to form, Peña Nieto brays the elite’s century-old canard, fomenting hatred for the Gringos while his corrupt pals make off with billions and wink at their pliant American counterparts.
“Your poverty is their fault! It’s Americans who are your exploiters,” he assures illegals, “not Mexico’s thoroughly embedded criminal ruling class”
Enrique’s venal allies quickly chime in. Former president Vicente Fox screams “Hitler”; even the country’s terrorized Catholic bishops sing along (thanks to the Corruptos, Mexico is the most dangerous country in the world to be a Catholic priest).
Peña Nieto promises illegals that his foreign ministry will protect them, because they are still Mexicans. In fact, anyone with Mexican ancestors who is now located in the United States is always a Mexican – not an American.
This novel geography applies equally to newly-smuggled illegal aliens, anchor babies, Coyotes, resident drug lords, green-card-bearing gang leaders, or fifth-generation “Mexican-Americans.”
For the Corruptos, they are all Mexicans living in “Greater Mexico.” They will always be aliens in the United States.
So does Peña Nieto invite them to come home to the Mother Country?
Quite the contrary: “STAY IN THE U.S.! WE NEED YOUR MONEY!”
Throughout Mexico, millions of communities depend on the “remesas” (remittances) sent home every year from relatives, legal and illegal, in the U.S. Amounting to tens of billions of dollars a year, these funds are Mexico’s only welfare system; the government’s version is so riddled with corruption that it’s virtually nonexistent.
The Corruptos also tax the remittances as soon as they arrive: recipient families must pay off the police chief, the mayor, and the local gang leader(s) – or fear for their lives and their livelihood.
This is the foul sewer of graft that will collapse in ruins when Trump’s Wall goes up to stay.
Peña Nieto laments that illegals in the U.S. are “at risk,” but the truth is darker: they’ll really be at risk if they return home.
Wait – wouldn’t they be safer there?
No way, José. If ten to twenty million illegals return to their family homes south of the border, it could bring down the entire Corrupto cartel.
For generations, the Corruptos have driven northwards millions of their fellow citizens so Enrique and his pals won’t have to take care of them at home.
That’s why Catholic bishops on both sides of the border routinely refer to Mexicans heading north to cross the border as “desperate.”
And who made them desperate?
Not us. After all, they’ve never been here.
Enrique’s pals made them desperate.
The Corruptos oppressed and exploited them as a way of life – that’s why they had to leave!
Moreover, there are tens of millions more Mexicans right there in Mexico who are “at risk” – terrorized by the corrupt multi-party elites that are allied with the drug gangs, the crime-infested military, the murderous Coyotes, and bought-off local officials. All these tentacles of the Mexican Deep State live on bribes, terror, and fraud.
That’s how the Corruptos oppress the common man and drive him north, where welfare benefits, medical care, and education are real – and free, thanks not to the Corruptos, but the American taxpayer.
But wait, there’s more: Enrique saves his biggest whopper for last:
“Mexico doesn’t believe in walls,” he says, barely stifling a guffaw.
A lie? Of course. All of Enrique’s houses in Mexico are surrounded by walls, just like every other house throughout the country.
In fact, any Mexican residence without a wall topped with broken glass and razor wire will be ransacked and gutted within 24 hours.
What’s the bottom line after all the lies?
President Trump’s executive order will deport criminal illegals. America’s “sanctuary cities” will be safe again, but the Corruptos are not going to give them a homecoming party.
Moreover, many other Mexicans, once deprived of illegal work and generous freebies in the U.S., will return to Mexico by choice.
When they get there, they will take Peña Nieto at his word and demand that he “be there for them” as he promised he would.
The Corruptos will suddenly have to provide them with all the benefits that the U.S. taxpayer once paid for.
When that crisis comes to a crescendo – and it will– we can expect a popular movement in Mexico to arise, echoing Donald Trump’s campaign slogan. “Make Mexico Great Again” will replace “hagamos una cosa” (“let’s see, how big should my bribe be?”) that has been the Mexican elite’s national motto for far too long.
Trump’s Wall will not only save America from Mexico’s Corruptos, it will save Mexico as well, when it brings the Corruptos down.
By the way, Peña Nieto belongs to the Marxist “Institutional Revolutionary Party.”
Hey, Enrique – tell your pals: here comes the real revolution.