“Once upon a time, most paper currency in the world was backed by gold and directly exchangeable for it. On August 15, 1971, US President Richard Nixon ended the Bretton Woods System (Ghizoni, 1971), in what is now known as ‘The Nixon Shock’, allowing all currencies to float freely, with only the backing of the faith and credit of their issuing sovereign state. This type of currency is known as ‘fiat currency’, i.e., currency that is given value by government decree (Keynes, et al., 1978). This report will not discuss the relative merits and drawbacks of gold-backed currency and fiat-money, only the triple-bottom-line impacts of each.” Continue reading

If this story didn’t have a Bloomberg byline, I would swear it was from last night’s edition of The Daily Show. Hospitals are now buying consumer purchasing data to figure out who smokes, who has a car, and who shops at Walmart or Whole Foods. The idea is to identify high-risk patients and help them choose a different path before it’s too late.

Does anyone remember Snowden? Does anyone still think big institutions can manage enormous sets of data carefully and ethically? What are the chances that the bottom line will win out over individuals? Continue reading

“Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said Wednesday that she doesn’t see a need for the Fed to start raising interest rates to defuse the risk that extremely low rates could destabilize the financial system. Yellen said she does see ‘pockets’ of increased risk-taking. But she said those threats could be addressed through greater use of regulatory tools, such as higher capital standards for banks. Some critics of Fed policies have warned that the central bank could be setting the stage for another dangerous bubble by keeping rates so low for so long. In her speech, Yellen said she didn’t see dangerous excesses in the financial system.” Continue reading

“Consumer prices in Japan rose at an annual rate of 3.4% in May, the fastest pace in 32 years, as the effect of the sales tax hike from 5% to 8% started to be felt. The price growth in May follows a 3.2% jump in April and is a big boost for Japan’s attempt to trigger inflation. The country’s central bank has set a target of a 2% inflation rate. The measures, which include boosting the country’s money supply, have started to have an impact and consumer prices in the country have now risen for 12 months in a row. Policymakers have been hoping that consumers and business will be encouraged to start spending and not hold back on purchases, as they may have to pay more later on.” Continue reading

“‘The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) has warned that ultra-low interest rates have lulled governments and markets “into a false sense of security’. The Basel-based organisation – usually dubbed the ‘central banks’ central bank’ – urged policy makers to begin to normalise rates. ‘The risk of normalising too late and too gradually should not be underestimated,’ the BIS said. Markets have rallied since January. The FTSE all-world share index is up 5% so far this year, while the ‘fear index’, is at a 7-year low. ‘Overall, it is hard to avoid the sense of a puzzling disconnect between the markets’ buoyancy and underlying economic developments globally,’ the BIS said in its annual report.” Continue reading

“We’re not going to let a little thing like forced labour spoil our Freedom Fest holiday. Anyway, it is only poor people who get caught up in the prisons’ slave market. So, we have nothing to worry about. We can hire a shyster lawyer when we need one. Besides, we like the Land of the Free. Which is to say, we appreciate hypocrisy. After all, it is the ‘homage that vice pays to virtue’. Without it, virtue wouldn’t get any strokes at all. Free minds and free markets are virtues too. Nobody cares about them either. Not in America. We have the schools to shackle minds. And we have the feds to lock up, beat up, and tie up the markets.” Continue reading

“The poor saps in this Ponzi scheme are on the hook for a whopping $222 TRILLION! Just like Charles Ponzi and Bernie Madoff, paying off promises with other people’s money is exactly how the United States Government operates. For decades, the US government has been racking up debt in your name and the names of your loved ones. Your personal stake in this Ponzi scheme is $714,000 and growing. Even newborn babies are immediately stuck with this bill! And it’s not like the United States Government is doing all of this for our own good. Ponzi and Madoff stole to live a life of luxury. What the American government is doing with your money is much, much worse…” Continue reading

“Fewer people depend on regular TV and you see more programs being deleted from TV. So the Internet is the wave of the future and that’s one of the reasons the freedom movement is growing, because it’s not dependent on the establishment. When I got interested in these ideas in the ’50s and ’60s it was very, very difficult to get any information but today it’s so easy and it spreads like a wildfire. It is worldwide. I’ve said it so many times – this is not a Republican deal. If the ideas are correct they will be pervasive. Interventionist foreign policy and Keynesian economics was endorsed by the Republicans and Democrats; they just argued over who got to be the managers.” Continue reading

“The consistent raising of nuclear tensions justifies continued economic reactions in order to keep Western economies stable and on track, which may include further justifications for continued monetary easing. International tensions also provide a rationale for a ‘flight to safety’ that reinforces the primacy of Western markets, in particular US bonds and equities. The up and down security posture of the West versus Russia (and China) can create alternatively a depression of ‘animal spirits’ and waves of euphoria that can lift markets. Finally, a fluid period of inter-state animosity can provide justifications for an eventual stock market crash that can usher the next phase of economic internationalism.” Continue reading

“In every instance of inflation or credit expansion there are two groups, that of the gainers and that of the losers. The creditors are the losers; it is their loss that is the profit of the debtors. But this is not all. The more fateful results of inflation derive from the fact that the rise in prices and wages which it causes occurs at different times and in different measure for various kinds of commodities and labor. Some classes of prices and wages rise more quickly and to a higher level than others. While inflation is under way, some people enjoy the benefit of higher prices on the goods and services they sell, while the prices of goods and services they buy have not yet risen at all or not to the same extent.” Continue reading

“The agency that controls monetary policy for the United States has an unlimited amount of money to buy support, compliance, or least silence within that segment of professionally trained economists that specializes in money and banking. The Federal Reserve gets to keep all the money that it wants for operations. It has to turn back over to the Treasury Department any money that is not used for operations, but it does not answer to Congress or the Treasury with respect to how it spends its money. This means that the Federal Reserve has essentially unlimited funds available to buy off those critics who might challenge Federal Reserve policy.” Continue reading

“Last week the ECB announced that it was cutting its headline lending rate to 0.15 percent and taking its deposit rate to negative 0.10 percent. That means banks must pay the ECB to hold their money, a move the ECB hopes will spur lending. It will also make $545 billion worth of inexpensive loans available to banks with the caveat that they lend more to the private sector. First tranche euro zone banks will be permitted to borrow up to 7% of the value of their corporate loans with additional tranches of funding [on the way]. While the goal of easing is to improve economic conditions at home, the money will ultimately flow to where it can find the greatest returns, as our own experience has shown.” Continue reading