2010 in review

January 2, 2011 1 comment

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 2,800 times in 2010. That’s about 7 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 33 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 319 posts. There were 6 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 86kb.

The busiest day of the year was January 3rd with 155 views. The most popular post that day was Steve Keen’s predictions for 2010.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were debtdeflation.com, simplesustainable.com, en.wordpress.com, ozrisk.net, and digg.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for karmaisking, lake cargelligo level, milton friedman idiot, silver prices, and milton friedman was an idiot.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Steve Keen’s predictions for 2010 January 2010
1 comment

2

Milton Friedman was an idiot December 2009
3 comments

3

Predictions for 2010 December 2009
5 comments

4

This is NOT a natural disaster! December 2009
1 comment

5

Why isn’t Steve Keen an Austrian? December 2009
10 comments

Categories: Uncategorized

Farewell until January 2020

January 8, 2010 5 comments

I will not post again on this blog until January 2020, for several reasons.

The first is personal: I wrote this blog when I was recuperating from illness and now, having recuperated (well, having recovered as much as I’m ever going to recover) I need to focus on other things.  Like getting outside more often.

The second is tactical: I have learned that one should never record over an extended period the failings or errors or corruptions of any entity that survives on intimidation or coercion.  Those who have infiltrated and then reported on the Mafia – not a good career move.  Those who have infiltrated and then reported on the Federal Reserve in the US – not a good career move.  Those who have infiltrated and reported on any powerful government entity – not a good career move. 

Keep it short, sweet, to the point and then leave it alone.  In other words, run.

The third is strategic: I have made a very intense, focused effort in the time I had available to provide a full-spectrum view from an Austrian perspective of current trends and events.  None of the developments I see on the horizon are good developments.  They are all bad.  Nevertheless, I have tried to record these developments, these dynamics, and predict the inevitable dénouement. 

When something is unsustainable it inevitably has to end.  That which cannot continue forever will not continue forever.  I think the trends recorded here on this blog are so obvious, and the conclusions to be so inevitable that there is no point repeating and repeating the same points over and over.  They will repeat themselves again and again this decade.  Until something breaks.  When and how the “break” occurs I cannot say.  Whether it occurs this decade or next I cannot say.  But something will “break”, as Robert K Landis has pointed out.

Regular readers will by now be 100% aware of my recommendations to prepare yourself for the inevitable break.  There is no need to re-hash this advice here.  For those who have not been regular readers to this blog, if you click on the “investment tips” archive on the home page to this blog you will quickly understand my investment perspective to ensure maximum protection during the coming inevitable dénouement.

Bill Bonner could have made his “Trade of Decade” in 2000 and then not said a word for ten years, except to say “I told you so” in January 2010.  Instead, his kept his Daily Reckoning site updated for our amusement each weekday throughout the naughties and made great money from his website and his associated businesses.  I do not propose to do the same.  I have made my predictions, my “Trade of the Decade”, and I now propose to sign off on this blog until January 2020, when we can all reconvene to compare notes and assess the success of this and other “Trades of the Decade”.

I ended up with an average of around 50 regular readers.  Nearly 8 years of academic research and work lies behind this blog.  And for all this work I reached an average of around 50 people.  Those people received some very valuable information, but clearly my message was reaching a very narrow audience and not many people care to hear the message.  For those who were regular readers, I trust the information has been valuable to you.  I also trust you can see the trends that will play out this year and this decade as clearly as I can.

For those individuals who reach this blog after I sign off, there are over 300 blog posts analysing social and economic and investment trends on this website.  I hope each and every one of my posts has as much relevance in 10 years’ time as it does today.  You are still welcome to search through the archives of this blog to your heart’s content at any time over the next 10 years.

I am confident the links provided on the right-hand side of my home page will keep you informed and entertained over the next 10 years.  Please access these sites if you wish further updates on investment trends.

If I am alive, I will post again in January 2020, to assess the accuracy of my predictions.

Until then, be good to yourself. 

Categories: Uncategorized

“Anarchy” really is a viable system of social order

January 8, 2010 Leave a comment

Nearly everyone I talk to has no idea (or more precisely doesn’t care) what anarchy means, what an “anarchist” supports.  Most associate anarchism with the Sex Pistols song.  Bad move.

Anarchy simply means the absence of monopoly government. 

Government is defined (even by Statists) as a monopoly provider of law and order services in a given geographic region.  There is no appeal process beyond the State.  It is defined as the “last appeal entity” in any jurisdiction when a dispute arises.

Anarchists believe in the power of voluntarism, spontaneous order and competition. 

Societies can order themselves through co-operation, not coercion.  Religions, social groups, charities – they all organise themselves cooperatively.  The govt organises society through compulsorily acquired property (theft through taxes) and through the use of monopoly force (via the police).

Spontaneous (not consciously designed) order can occur through the price mechanism.  Governments do not use the price mechanism to allocate resources; they use the political process and their own decision-making criteria, divorced from the price mechanism.  If a service is already being delivered by the private sector (such as coin production) the govt has to crush that industry in order to control that market.

Competition simply means a number of entities competing to provide the consumer the same product or service.  Govts should “compete” to provide law and order.  If a citizen doesn’t like a particular brand of “law and order” he should be able to sell up and move freely to a neighbouring state providing better law and order.  Hence, states should be as numerous and as small as possible.

My first introduction to anarcho-libertarian ideas was through this book by Robert Ellickson entitled Order Without Law: How Neighbours Settle Disputes.  After reading this brilliant book, I (naturally) asked myself “If neighbours can settle disputes efficiently themselves, why can’t all of us – society at large – do the same thing?  We are all essentially neighbours, and when we get into disputes all conflicts are essentially analogous to neighbourly disputes.  So why are there monopoly providers of so-called ‘law and order’ when we could probably (in the vast majority of disputes) do a much better job ourselves through voluntary arbitration/mediation services, appointed by disputants themselves (and through private insurance and security service providers in the case of protection of property and person)?”

I then went on to read Murray Rothbard, and found that he had posed the same questions.  Then I read Hans Hermann Hoppe and the Sun came out, shining brightly.  Hulsmann and de Soto simply added to the brilliant sunshine.

I now divide up the world into those ignorant fools who haven’t read these works and those Chosen Few who have.

Murray Rothbard begged for anarchists to be given a country, a region, to try out these ideas, to see whether they would work.

Well, as it happens, an area of the world is trying out these ideas, by default.  A “lawless” region of Africa has “fallen” into a state of true anarchy.  That region is a  secessionist area within the Ivory Coast.

And you know what’s happening? 

It is flourishing!  Check out what’s happening here.

And, ironically, when the central bank of Zimbabwe completely abandoned its attempts to control the monetary system and allowed “anarchy” to reign, with any currency (foreign or domestic) lawfully being permitted to be used for trade, guess what happened?  Trade flourished!  See what happened in 2009 here.

If we know for a fact that these ideas work, why don’t governments break up, why don’t they shrink, why don’t they abandon their “plans” for the benefit of the people?

Because they don’t exist for the benefit of the people.  They exist for themselves, to suck the lifeblood out of an economy.  They exist to expropriate property on behalf of their benefactors.

Remove the thief and the people flourish, just like you’d expect in any safe, civilized area of the city. 

Allow the rapists of the State to flourish and what you get is not anarchy, but chaos.

Who can deny that the biggest, most expensive State operations today are occurring in Iraq and Afghanistan?  Have you visited these “strong state” regions?  Do you know the “benefits” the internationalized State is providing the people in these regions?  Note: the Taliban are long gone from govt in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein was hanged years ago now.  These “enterprises” are now run exclusively by Western govts and by the UN.

I ask you: Would you prefer to live as an ordinary person in the secessionist area of the Ivory Coast mentioned above or in Kabul?  Both are extreme cases at either ends of the spectrum: one with the complete absence of govt, and one with the greatest concentration of govt agencies (both “domestic” and international) on the planet.

Please think about it.  And please never associate anarchy with the Sex Pistols song ever again.

Categories: Anarchy, Austrian School

Record cold temperatures in Europe disprove global warming?

January 8, 2010 Leave a comment

Remember when “climate scientists” (climate zealots) tried to “prove” global warming by pointing to record high temperatures in Australia and Europe last year?

What are they doing now that Europe and North America are experiencing one of the worst winters on record, with Scotland going down to an Arctic -21 degrees?

Well, now they are saying recent cold temperatures in Europe don’t disprove global warming.

I would be fine with that if they hadn’t already pointed to recent high temperatures as proving the existence of global warming.

Could the climate guys be any dumber?  First, they schedule a conference on global warming in Copenhagen in the middle of winter.  Then, they point to recent high temperatures as proving global warming but run away from the implications of the record cold snap in Europe.  Then, they display unbelievable cynicism about the whole process of science by cooking the books on climate science. Then they try to deny the cover-up. 

The whole thing is sad.

If this is what academics spend their time doing, I’d prefer it if they all got new jobs in some more reputable, productive profession.  Like porn, or drug trafficking.  At least in those industries you have to deliver a real product with a real bang.

Keynesian Krugman writes his own obituary

January 8, 2010 Leave a comment

Paul Krugman made me laugh today.  Really laugh!  Here is the funny piece from his blog:

This is the way the Chicago School ends.

Not with a bang, but with a cackle.

Brad DeLong, Justin Fox, and Paul Kedrosky have already weighed in on the not-available-online John Cassidy piece on Chicago economics.

Like them, I find it really sad. Here’s Eugene Fama, insisting that there was no financial crisis, just markets reacting rationally to an economic crisis caused by brain-eating aliens flouridated water something or other — hey, macro isn’t his department. John Cochrane, on the other hand, says that it’s all because George W. Bush gave a scary speech.

What struck me was the fact that Cochrane is still trying the argument-from-authority thing: this was all proved false in the 1970s, nobody serious believes in it, etc.. At this point he knows (although one wonders whether he did originally) that there’s this thing called New Keynesian economics on which a lot of smart people have been working since the mid-1980s. And yes, the models do allow for effective fiscal policy. But Cochrane is still using the Lucas giggles and whispers line.

It’s hard to avoid the sense that Chicago just turned inward on itself circa 1982, and stopped paying attention either to the world or to anyone not of its tribe. And now it finds that the rest of the world is returning the favor.

Two things made me laugh.

First, the brain-eating aliens/flouridated water line was both unexpected and very witty.  I liked it from an economist who is normally so serious about his own profession.

Second, the obituary he writes for the Chicago School is exactly the obituary I would write for the whole mainstream – particularly the Keynesians.  Henry Hazlitt cut Keynes to bits half a century ago, and Keynesianism still carries on, like a zombie, brain-dead, lifeless, causing death and destruction wherever it is allowed in.  After the Keynesian-induced disasters of Japan and the US, each time PK visits any country the call should go out across the land:

“A Keynesian is approaching!  Shut the town gates!  Hide the women and children!  Run!  To the men: Get the crucifixes, the Holy Water and the garlic and the shot guns and let’s all meet in the town square to distract the Keynesian zombie away from the gold and our women!  Apparently all Keynesian zombies love brains – give me some mad cow brains and perhaps he’ll eat those!”

Paul Krugman writes accurately of the Chicago School’s demise but doesn’t realise his words could apply equally to himself and Keynesians generally.

Then again, zombies can never tell that they’re already dead. 

Shhh…. don’t tell him (he might start staggering my way!).

United Keynesians

January 8, 2010 Leave a comment

The UK now has riskier credit than Italy.

Investors now view Britain as a riskier lending proposition than Italy, with its cost of borrowing rising comfortably above the 4pc mark for the first time this year.

The yield on 10-year gilts rose briefly above the 4.1pc level in intraday trading and spent most of the day higher than the yield on benchmark Italian bonds, as fears over Britain’s fiscal credibility continued to haunt markets. The news came as analysts warned that hedge funds and other “smart money” traders had been largely responsible for leading the exodus out of UK government debt.

The Treasury’s cost of borrowing has risen by more than a percentage point since March, despite the Bank of England spending £200bn on gilts through its quantitative easing (QE) programme. Experts put the increase down to worries that this and future governments will either prove incapable of reducing their deficit or will resort to inflation in order to erode it. The combined effect has been to catapult UK government bond yields above those of Italy and Spain in the past few weeks alone.

Mama Mia!

Meanwhile, whilst Labor govts in Oz are killing farmers in NSW…

January 8, 2010 Leave a comment

Jim Rogers is screaming that soft commodities are the Buy of the Century and that arable land will be as precious as gold in coming decades.

Speculation in agricultural commodities may not have reached fever pitch yet but with food shortages expected in 2010, it could.

Jim Rogers, one of the world’s most astute investors has been bullish on commodities in general for several years. On agricultural (or soft) commodities, he says: ‘Food inventories worldwide are at the lowest in decades as the world continues to consume more than it produces. We even have a shortage of farmers now since agriculture has been such a terrible business for three decades. We should all hope prices go higher or there may soon be a time when there will be little or no food at any price.’

Mr Rogers, who created his own commodities indices, has put his name to several index funds. The Elements Jim Rogers International Commodity Index Agriculture Total Return which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange has, for instance, risen by about 6 per cent since the start of 2009.

Interest in soft commodities has had an impact on prices.

‘Whenever there are buyers of anything, it affects the prices. For example, if you live in an apartment or house, you are affecting the price of housing in Singapore,’ adds Mr Rogers.

There are several ways to invest in soft commodities including the futures contracts on commodities exchanges like the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT).

The index funds alluded to by the FAO include the more rarefied market of exchange traded funds (ETFs) that typically attract institutional investors.

There are more prosaic ways as well.

In China, the bubble people are talking about now is not in real estate but in garlic.

Worries about persistent swine flu prompted a spike in garlic consumption in 2009 and soon, everyone was hoarding it in hopes of making a quick buck. Prices are said to have gone up by 50 per cent in the last few months.

Rice could be next. Barclays Capital Research economist Leong Wai Ho says: ‘The bigger problem for food prices is an old one – physical hoarding that can limit physical availability, unlike derivative trading.

‘Rice prices are now at levels that are likely to induce physical hoarding in Vietnam and Thailand. And also in stricken countries – authorities in Southern Guangdong have introduced anti-hoarding measures in the wake of the ongoing drought.’

And Mr Leong also believes the significance of food prices may not have been factored into inflation either.

For 2010, the Singapore government’s inflation forecast has been revised from 1-2 per cent to 2.5-3.5 per cent. Citing rising Thai fragrant rice prices, the prospect of El Nino weather conditions, higher import demand from Asian countries, Barclays’ 2010 inflation forecast for Singapore is higher at 4 per cent, up from 1.5 per cent previously.

Still, the verdict is out on how this will impact the economic recovery.

‘I don’t think there will be a meaningful impact on growth,’ says Mr Leong. ‘While the monetary policy stance will be tightened from where it was before, the overall policy stance will still be largely accommodative in 2010. The exchange rate will be used to lean into imported inflation, while liquidity will still remain flush and fiscal policy still expansionary,’ he added.

Economists will nevertheless be ‘keeping an eye’ on food prices.

What a great move for the Labor govts in Oz to grant mining rights to the barbarians at BHP and the other Neanderthal low-IQ Big Miners over the most fertile arable land in both NSW and Qld, just at the time when sugar prices are at historic highs and every astute investor is screaming that farmland is a buy.  If we had any brains we’d be hoarding our minerals until prices spiked in a decade, and we’d be focusing on innovation in solar power and recycling technologies instead of digging dirty ditches and selling our precious metals for worthless paper.

But no, let’s sell everything we’ve got RIGHT NOW!  What forethought, what genius, what planning, what brilliance!  Well done, Rudd, well done Bligh, well done what’s-her-name-puppet-of-the-Labor-Right-in-NSW!

This proves conclusively to me that (1) there is no God and (2) the NSW and Cth govts are infested with the dumbest people on this God-forsaken planet.