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Bill Bonner

Bill Bonner

Since founding Agora Inc. in 1979, Bill Bonner has found success and garnered camaraderie in numerous communities and industries. A man of many talents, his entrepreneurial savvy, unique writings, philanthropic undertakings, and preservationist activities have all been recognized and awarded by some of America's most respected authorities.

Articles by Bill Bonner

The Most Innocent Man Ever in the White House

December 8, 2019

Great Moqueur
Poor Donald Trump. The Chinese won’t play ball with him. The Democrats are trying to impeach him. And now, other world leaders are laughing at him!

Mesmerized by his glorious radiance – the shepherd alights amid his flock. [PT]

L.A. Times:

“President Trump, who views norms like a teenager does curfews, shattered another tradition Wednesday when he became the first U.S. president to be laughed at by some of America’s closest allies at a NATO summit, a sign of his increasing isolation on the world stage.”

The great moqueur is being mocked. But so what? The Donald was elected to break up the status quo. Naturally, a lot of people don’t like it. And many readers will be tempted to pile on… to carp and criticize.
Others will

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The One Promise Trump Can Keep

August 31, 2017

Broken Promises
POITOU, FRANCE – “We live in a slow-growth world,” summarized a canny friend, “but with high-growth debt and high-growth asset prices.” Today, we turn to a report on Zero Hedge for further precision.
But we’ll get to that in a minute. First, let’s begin with less precision. The promise of the Trump administration was, in a nutshell, that it would look ahead and improve the future before we got there. How?
 
President Trump: so far the future proves more resistant to MAGA-type improvements than originally expected. That is not necessarily the Donald’s fault, but so far it is definitely a fact. [PT]
Illustration by  Les Lea Ellison
 

Drain the “swamp”,  cut the regulations, slash corporate tax rates by about 20%, kill O’care,  raise tariffs on imports to reduce the trade

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Deep State First

August 24, 2017

Lighting a Candle
POITOU, FRANCE – On Tuesday, Donald Trump, president of all the Americans, said his country would spend more blood and money trying to force the Afghans to do what it wants them to do, whatever that is.
 
If you are destined to stay on the Afghan plantation forever, might as well plant something. [PT]
Cartoon by Steve Bell
 

And so… a darkness covered the land. From Sioux City to Savannah, a shadow passed between Earth and sun. Strange and fearful events were reported. A calf was born with two heads outside of Des Moines. Pomegranate trees flowered in Manhattan. An LGBTQQ+ person wondered WTF?
The people were sore afraid.
Nowhere was the darkness deeper than in the nation’s capital. There, no light shone. No flicker of awareness… observation… learning… or reflection

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Will They Haul Off Trump’s Statue, Too?

August 18, 2017

Confused by Shadows
POITOU, FRANCE – This week, we are talking about theperishable nature of gods. Yesterday, the city fathers of our hometown of Baltimore let it be known that it was time to toss out the old deities.
 
The Robert E. Lee and Thomas. J. “Stonewall” Jackson Monument in Baltimore, which the mayor inter alia wants to remove. Suddenly it has become fashionable to erase the memory of an important part of US history all over the country. By experience, this is typically done by authoritarian Marxists and fascists, as well as assorted radical Islamists. They are all famous for destroying monuments they don’t like or brushing people out of pictures when they are no longer considered to properly toe the line of the Fuehrer du jour. Democratic societies tend to remove the statues

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What Went Wrong With the 21st Century?

August 9, 2017

Fools and Rascals
 
And it’s time, time, time
And it’s time, time, time
It’s time, time, time that you love
And it’s time, time, time…
– Tom  Waits

 

Tom Waits rasps about time
 
POITOU, FRANCE – “So how much did you make last night?”
“We made about $15,000,” came the reply from our eldest son, a keen cryptocurrency investor.
“Bitcoin briefly pierced the $3,500 mark – an all-time high. The market cap of the entire crypto market shot up, too… with daily trading volume also rising.
“And remember, this is still a tiny market. Most people don’t own any crypto-currencies. Most people don’t even know what crypto-currencies are. The whole market is only one sixty-fifth the size of the entire gold market. There’s a lot of room to grow. Eventually, everyone will be using cryptos.”
 
Bitcoin is

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Which Is Worse? America or France?

July 18, 2017

French Fraud
POITOU, FRANCE – “Which is worse? America or France?” The question must be put in context. We were invited to dinner with local farmers last night. Jean-Yves and Arlette live in a modest house in the nearby town – an efficient and cozy place built about 25 years ago. They’ve added a solarium to the back, where we had dinner.
 
FAF – French-American Friendship. These days it’s a “which is worse” competition… [PT]
 

Arlette operates a dairy farm left to her by her parents. Jean-Yves runs a cattle and cereal farm that was in his family. A son and his wife moved into the farmhouse in Jean-Yves’ place. Anticipating retirement, he and his wife moved into town.
“You have Trump. But we have Macron,” Jean-Yves said. On balance, France probably comes out ahead on that score. Macron

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How Dumb Is the Fed?

July 13, 2017

Bent and Distorted
POITOU, FRANCE – This morning, we are wondering: How dumb is the Fed?
The question was prompted by this comment by former Fed insider Chris Whalen at The Institutional Risk Analyst blog.
 
They’re not the best map readers, that much is known for certain. [PT]
 

[O]ur message to the folks in Jackson Hole this week [at the annual central banker meeting there] is that the end of the Fed’s reckless experiment in social engineering via QE and near-zero interest rates will end in tears.
“Momentum” stocks like Tesla, to paraphrase our friend Dani Hughes on CNBC last week, will adjust and the mother of all rotations into bonds and defensive stocks will ensue. We must wonder aloud if Chair Yellen and her colleagues on the FOMC fully understand what they have done to the US

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No “Trump Bump” for the Economy

July 12, 2017

Crackpot Schemes
POITOU, FRANCE – “Nothing really changes.” Sitting next to us at breakfast, a companion was reading an article written by the No. 2 man in France, Édouard Philippe, in Le Monde. The headline promised to tell us how the country was going to “deblock” itself.  But upon inspection, the proposals were the same old claptrap about favoring “green” energy… changing the tax code to reward one group and punish another…  and spending more money on various humbug initiatives.
 
Subsidized green energy scams are mainly creating eyesores – other than that, they add up to nothing but cronyism writ large. After the one of the biggest solar company bankruptcies ever happened in Spain, a detailed economic study found that for every subsidized renewable energy job the government “created”

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Is Trump a Modern Caesar?

June 21, 2017

Putting on the Purple
 
Mayor: Drebin, I don’t want any more trouble like you had last year on the South Side. Understand? That’s my policy.
Drebin: Yes. Well, when I see five weirdos dressed in togas stabbing a guy in the middle of the park in full view of 100 people, I shoot the bastards. That’s my policy.
Mayor: That was a Shakespeare in the Park production of Julius Caesar, you moron! You killed five actors! Good ones.
– The Naked Gun

 
Laura Loomer, the first protester to rush the stage to interrupt the enactment of stabbing Donald “Caesar” Trump in a new version of Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar. Apparently it has been transformed into some kind of leftist/ establishment/ Deep State wish fulfillment fantasy, which in turn has predictably triggered supporters of Mr. Trump. Since

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The Valium Era

June 16, 2017

Don’t Be Fooled by These Calm Markets
What is happening in the world of money? Well – the most striking thing is: nothing.
It doesn’t seem to matter what happens. Dysfunction in Washington. Meltdown of the techs. No matter how rough the seas get, the markets glide along… scarcely noticing the storm-tossed waves below.
 
Thankfully the world’s central planners are so well-versed in egging on the creation of an ever greater mountain of debt and seemingly limitless asset price inflation with their “scientific” monetary policy that a complete blow-up of the the financial system only threatens now and then… most of the time we are in “moderation” mode. Nowadays we are in something that feels like a Valium-induced waking dream. It couldn’t be better… volatility has just served up its greatest

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What Do “Think Tanks” Think About?

June 8, 2017

“Russiagate”
WEST RIVER, MARYLAND – We’re back at our post – watching… reading… trying to connect the dots. And we begin by asking: What do “think tanks” think about? The answer in a minute.
First, there is a dust-up in the Washington, D.C., area. “Russiagate,” it is called. As near as we can make out, some people think the Trump team had or has illegal or inappropriate contacts with the Russian government.
 
It’s all very obvious, if one looks closely…  Putin has inundated the brains of US voters with his evil Putin rays from his redoubt in Moscow, causing them to make the wrong choice.
 

This knowledge, such as it is, has apparently been obtained by illegal or inappropriate leaks of information gotten by illegal or inappropriate eavesdropping by government agencies doing illegal or

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Mexicans and Chinese Aren’t “Stealing Our Jobs”

June 5, 2017

Tremendous Flop
GUALFIN, ARGENTINA – Now comes a report from the Financial Times that tells us the nation’s No. 1 industry – home building – has been backing up for a quarter of a century.
According to the newspaper, U.S. home builders “started work on the same number of houses in the past year as they did a quarter of a century ago, even though there are 36% more people working as residential builders now than then.”
 
Moat contractors have been particularly bad. Incidents like the one depicted above are reportedly increasingly frequent.
Image credit: Gary Larson
 

The report puzzled over the apparent collapse in productivity in the sector. “Somewhat difficult to believe,” say researchers (it’s not so difficult for us to believe… but we’ll get to that in a minute).
As we’ve written

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The Knives Come Out for Trump

May 19, 2017

A Minor Derailment
GUALFIN, ARGENTINA – Yesterday, stocks fell.
And volatility shot up.
 
When too many people have too many knives out at once, accidental cubism may result
 

Reports Bloomberg:
 
The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled more than 370 points, Treasuries rallied the most since July and volatility spiked higher as the turmoil surrounding the Trump administration roiled financial markets around the globe.
Major U.S. stock indexes tumbled the most in eight months, while the CBOE Volatility Index [which measures investors’ expectations of price swings on the S&P 500] jumped the most since the U.K. voted to leave the European Union last June, shattering the calm that gripped markets in the past month as the crisis threatened to derail the policy agenda that helped push

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The 21st Century Has Been a Big, Fat Flop

May 10, 2017

Seeming Contradiction
CACHI, ARGENTINA – Here at the Diary we have fun ridiculing the pretensions, absurdities, and hypocrisies of the ruling classes. But there is a serious side to it, too. Mockery makes us laugh. And laughing helps us wiggle free from the kudzu of fake news.
 
Is it real? Is it real? Is it real? Above you can see what the problem with reality is, or potentially is, in a 6-phase research undertaking that has landed its protagonist in a very disagreeable situation (a corner of reality best avoided, so to speak). 1. he learns that something is amiss. 2. he has to measure reality, otherwise it doesn’t exist! He does so, and 3. strange people show up at his doorstep, giving him ominous messages. 4. At least reality is now real! Then he  learns about a philosopher, who

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The Fed Will Blink

April 25, 2017

Honest Profession
GUALFIN, ARGENTINA – The Dow rose 174 points on Thursday. And Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said we’d have a new tax system by the end of the year.
Animal spirits were restless. But which animals? Dumb oxes? Or wily foxes? Probably both.
 
Since Thursday there have been two additional very spirited up days with large gaps – this is very rare in the DJIA, particularly from such a high level after a ~240% rally since the lows made 8 years ago… it continues to feel like a blow-off (and it happens against the backdrop of a sharp slowdown in money supply growth) – click to enlarge.
 

But what caught our attention were the central bankers strutting across the yard and crowing with such numbskull cackles that even barnyard animals would be embarrassed by them. There was a time when central banking was an honest profession.
Central bankers provided financing for the government. They backed the banking system, too, by holding savings as reserves, which they lent to solvent member banks in emergencies. They were tight-lipped, tight-laced, and tightwads. Their role was to say “no” more often than “yes.”
When the king wanted money to fight in a war… or build a bridge… the banker would give the terse reply: “Sire, we don’t have any.” Real money was backed by gold. And credit had to be backed by real money, which meant it had to be saved.

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Central Banks Have a $13 Trillion Problem

April 21, 2017

Paycheck to Paycheck
GUALFIN, ARGENTINA – The Dow was down 118 points on Wednesday. It should have been down a lot more. Of course, markets know more than we do. And maybe this market knows something that makes sense of these high prices. What we see are reasons to sell, not reasons to buy.
 
DJIA daily (incl. Thursday)… it was just taking a rest – click to enlarge.
 

Nearly half of all American families live “paycheck to paycheck,” say researchers. Without borrowing, 46% couldn’t raise $400 to cover an emergency. This is at least part of the reason why retail sales dropped for the second month in a row in March. Despite seven years of economic “recovery,” millions of Americans don’t have much money.
According to Census Bureau figures, 110 million Americans receive benefits from means-tested federal programs – food stamps, disability, and the like. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 125 million Americans have full-time work (with another roughly 112 million without jobs).
That means there are only 125 million people in full-time jobs supporting the whole kit and caboodle of the U.S. economy, with a total population of 323 million. At that rate, each full-time worker supports about 2.6 people… including almost one person receiving money from the feds.
They are also supporting a government debt of $20 trillion and private debt of another $40 trillion or so.

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Trump Is An Insider Now

April 18, 2017

Conspiracy of the Few
GUALFIN, ARGENTINA – “U.S. stocks fall on Trump talk…” began a headline at Bloomberg. Or it may be Trump action. We had already counted six major campaign promises – including no O’care repeal and no “America First” foreign policy – already buried (some for the better).
 
A bunch of campaign promises get the MOAB treatment…  A great many  theories have been proposed to explain Trump’s recent series of u-turns: 1. he is in thrall to the Deep State because he always was, or because he is blackmailed; 2. he plays a deep, Machiavellian game, and the strike on Syria and other policy reversals are just temporary reversals to get the media and the people promoting the story that he is a pawn of Putin off his back; 3. he simply reacts impulsively to situations as they develop, without even considering whether his actions are in line with his promises. Perhaps he was replaced by an android?
Cartoon by Nate Beeler
 

Then came four more major policy reversals on Wednesday. Seeking Alpha reports:
 
In a single day, President Trump appeared to reverse his positions on no fewer than four key pledges that arguably led to his election victory.

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Pulling Levers to Steer the Machine

April 13, 2017

Ticks on a Dog
A brief comment on Fed chief Janet Yellen’s revealing speech at the University of Michigan. Bloomberg:
 
“Before, we had to press down on the gas pedal trying to give the economy all of the oomph that we possibly could,” Yellen said Monday in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Fed is now trying to “give it some gas, but not so much that we’re pushing down hard on the accelerator.” […]
“The appropriate stance of policy now is closer to, let me call it neutral,” Yellen said in response to questions during an event at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. Yellen said she expected the economy to continue to grow at a moderate pace and that gradual interest rate increases “can get us where we need to be.”
 
Central planners groping in the dark…
 

Every society is ruled by an elite. They prey upon the common folks like ticks on a dog. They work their way into positions of power and influence, using a combination of brains, connections, and claptrap.
The mob generally looks up to them, impressed by the hocus pocus. And then, eventually, the ticks grow too many and too fat. The poor dog weakens… and the magic fails.
Where exactly we are in the process, we can’t be sure. But surely, we took another step toward the eventual catastrophe when Ms. Yellen spoke.
Everything she said was preposterous.

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Heavily Armed Swamp Critters

April 12, 2017

Worst Mistake
GUALFIN, ARGENTINA – By our calculation, it took just 76 days for President Trump to get on board with the Clinton-Bush-Obama agenda. Now there can be no doubt where he’s headed. He’s gone Full Empire. Not that it was unexpected. But the speed with which the president abandoned his supporters and went over to the Deep State is breathtaking.
    Once there was only a Trump fragrance called Empire… now he has gone full empire himself
 

Among the noise and hubbub of the election campaign, there was one message coming from the Trump team that was music to our ears. Middle East wars? He was against them, he said.
He claimed to have opposed the 2003 attack on Iraq. He said it was one of the “worst mistakes” the country ever made. As for further involvement, why waste American lives and American wealth on wars you can’t win?
“America First,” he said. This was a refreshing position. It put the Republican neo-cons and Establishment Republicans against him; many went over to Hillary rather than risk giving up their think tank grants and consulting fees.
 
Tweets by Bill Kristol, one of the best known pro-war neo-con think tank appendages and political pundits in the US. It is quite amazing that this man is actually considered a “conservative”.

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Doomsday Device

April 7, 2017

Disappearing Credit
All across the banking world – from commercial loans to leases and real estate – credit is collapsing. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard writing for British newspaper The Telegraph:
 
Credit strategists are increasingly disturbed by a sudden and rare contraction of U.S. bank lending, fearing a synchronized slowdown in the U.S. and China this year that could catch euphoric markets badly off guard. Data from the U.S. Federal Reserve shows that the $2 trillion market for commercial and industrial loans peaked in December.
The sector has weakened abruptly as lenders tighten credit, especially for non-residential property. Over the last three months it has dropped at a rate of 5.4% on annual basis, a pace of decline not seen since December 2008.
 
C & I loans, y/y growth. Readers may recall that we recently showed this chart in “Libor Pains”, in which we discussed corporate debt. Actually, y/y commercial & industrial loan growth peaked in early 2015 already, not just “last December”… but lettuce not quibble (Pritchard likely meant to refer to total commercial bank credit, the growth rate of which reached an interim peak in late 2016 – shown further below). The point remains that credit growth is falling fast – click to enlarge.
 

If new loans aren’t made, the supply of credit money will contract.

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The Empire Needs an Emperor

April 5, 2017

Unknown (sort of) Head of State
BUENOS AIRES – Type Swiss President “Doris Leuthard” into Google. You will get about 450,000 results. Do the same with Donald Trump, and the number is closer to 396 million. That’s 87,900% more references. The world’s press is as fascinated by President Trump as it is indifferent to President Leuthard.
 
Doris Leuthard, President and energy minister of Switzerland. She has won her second presidential term this year. It basically doesn’t matter… she is primus inter pares, as the Swiss Federation is actually administered by a body of seven people (the Federal Council), modeled after the ancient Athenian polis system. The president does not enjoy greater political power than her colleagues – there is no single “boss”. We have written about the unique Swiss political system in greater detail here.
Photo credit: Jacques Demarthon / AFP
 

What will Ms. Leuthard do next? What outrageous new tweet will she send out? Whom will she attack? No one seems to care…
And yet, though we have never met either one of them, we have a suspicion. Ms. Leuthard is probably decent, earnest, and wholesome. She has never killed anyone, and it would take her a while to even get used to insulting people.
Mr. Trump, on the other hand, is in another category. Impervious to ridicule as to the fires of hell, he is especially well suited for the role he has been given. Mr.

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Jesus Was No Deep Stater

March 31, 2017

Darkening Picture
SÃO PAULO – We arrived on Sunday morning. São Paulo can have terrible traffic. It is a sprawling place of 12 million people. But it was early when we pulled into town; the traffic moved swiftly. We decided to go to mass at the old São Paulo (Saint Paul’s) Cathedral downtown.
 
São Paulo, similar to Mexico City, reminds on a bit of the universe, or at least of one of the universe’s main characteristics: it has seemingly no boundary.
Photo credit: Journeying Jeff
 

The area is a bit rundown. Derelict. Bums and half-wits congregated in the park in front of the church, and inside the church, too. More on that story in a minute. First, we check in on the world of mammon.
U.S. stocks saw several days of losses recently as the economic picture darkens [not to worry, they’re already on the way back up, ed.]. Houses are selling again. But there’s a big problem: The average house buyer is less able than ever before to buy the average house.
His income, compared to the cost of buying a house, is the lowest on record. Thus housing takes up a disproportionate share of his wages, leaving less for other spending.
 
Yet another aspect of Bernanke’s echo bubble – car loan securitization soars and the share of sub-prime lending has become greater and greater as the bubble expanded, as fewer and fewer creditworthy borrowers are left. Wait for it… – click to enlarge.

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The Swamp Claims Its First Victim

March 29, 2017

Swamp Battle
 
Washington [is] a lot more broken than President Trump thought that it was.
— White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney

 
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – On Friday, the much-hyped Trump/GOP Obamacare reform sank into the swamp.  If anything keeps us from national bankruptcy, it won’t be entitlement reform. Not under Donald J. Trump.
 
A collection of swamp victims who haven’t paid attention… didn’t they know that Dracula can’t be killed?
 

Next up, tax reform. Here again, readers are advised not to hold their breath. The same slimy swamp battles – with politicos, insiders, GOP rival factions, and President Trump himself all snapping at each other’s tails – will probably kill any serious reform.
Besides, there’s a deeper problem. Tax “reform” or tax “cuts” are useless unless spending is also cut. Otherwise, they just shift the burden from one taxpayer to another, or from taxpayers to consumers, or from targeted tax victims to the general public.
And trying to cut spending is… well… tough. And if you don’t cut the military or entitlements, what’s left? Not much.
We recall the jubilation in some quarters as the new team sailed up the Potomac and dropped anchor in the Tidal Basin. The parties… the fanfare… the hopes that, finally, the U.S. government might take a new tack.
U.S. GDP was $14 trillion in 2009. Today, it is $18 trillion.

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The Unstable Empire – A Campfire Tale

March 20, 2017

Campfire Tale
 
Caesar: The Ides of March are come.
Soothsayer: Ay, Caesar, but not gone.
— Julius Caesar, Shakespeare
 
GRANADA, NICARAGUA – Today, we stop the horses and circle the wagons. For 19 years, we have been rolling along, exploring, discovering. We began with the assumption that we didn’t “know” anything – so we kept our eyes open. Now we know even less.
 
Famous people who knew nothing and were not shy to admit it: Sergeant Schultz (left), Socrates (right)…
 

But we’ve covered a lot of ground. So, let’s take a brief pause to get our bearings and to sit in front of the campfire and tell our tales. New readers of the Diary are invited to pull up a log. You need to know what we’ve seen so far. It will help make sense of what you read tomorrow and in the future. And, yes, this is going to take a little longer than a normal Diary.
We’ve been exploring a wilderness unknown to most humans – a money world that is very different from the way it is supposed to be. In the press lately are reports of “fake news.” Well, guess what? The money system is fake, too.
If you are an investor, or preparing to retire, or just someone who is interested in how the world works, listen up. Because it doesn’t work the way they tell you in the civics books, Economics 101 or in the mainstream press. It is much more complex, corrupt, and dangerous.

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Searching for Truth

March 14, 2017

Heresy or Truth?
RANCHO SANTANA, NICARAGUA – In the fifth century, Christian scholars counted 88 different heresies. Arianism. Eutychianism. Nestorianism. If there was a way to “offend” God, they had a name for it. One group of “heretics” argued that there was no such thing as “original sin.” Another denied the trinity. And another claimed Jesus was not divine. Which one had the truth?
 
Depiction of the first Council of Ephesus in 431 AD, convened by Emperor Theodosius II. It was the third ecumenical council (after the Council of Nicaea in AD 325 and the Council of Constantinople in AD 381). The patriarchs Cyril of Alexandria and Nestorius of Constantinople clashed over church doctrine at Ephesus. The synod ended with Nestorius and Caelestius and their supporters being condemned as heretics. The council precipitated the first major church schism (called the Nestorian schism), which led to churches in the Sassanid Empire separating from the rest of the church. The Roman Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East finally laid their dispute to rest in a common Christological declaration issued in 1994 – a full 1563 years after the first Council of Ephesus.
Photo credit: Philippe Alès
 

Not waiting for divine revelation, they fought it out in the streets… in wars and mass murders. Heretics were persecuted, tortured, and burned at the stake.

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Why the 21st Century Sucks – Turtles All the Way Down

March 10, 2017

A Truly Sucky Century
BALTIMORE – What an awful century! Worst we’ve ever seen. Household incomes are down. Employment is down, with 7 million people in the U.S. of working age without jobs. Productivity growth is down. GDP growth is down – to only about 0.5% per capita last year. Even life expectancies are down. Drug overdoses are up. Suicides are up. One out of every eight children lives in a family getting food stamps. One of out every eight adults takes psychoactive drugs .
 
Death from drug overdoses is back in fashion – big time.  Club of Rome Malthusians can only dream of such effective population control. The picture to the right illustrates the the adventurous lifestyle of many 21st century junkies. Contrary to many of their contemporaries, these young men are not weighed down by a great many possessions, and they do get a lot of fresh air. Before you decide on a career change to join these rugged outdoorsmen though, you should consider that they do have a bit of a life expectancy problem – click to enlarge.
 

Half of all families get money from the feds. Half have less than $500 available for emergencies. Two-thirds aren’t saving for retirement. More than half cannot afford their own homes. And 49 million live in poverty.

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America in a Drugged Stupor

March 1, 2017

Learning Machine
BALTIMORE – The Dow, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq remain near record highs and are up about 10% since Election Day. Fed officials say they could raise interest rates “fairly soon.” Blah… blah… blah…
 
One of these days… sooner rather than later… as soon as the data permit…
Cartoon by Bob Rich
 

The economy is a learning machine. So is a person. We’re not talking about the kind of faux “learning” you do in school. Much of that is negative – ideas, information, and skills that destroy or delay real learning. In fact, some people stay in school to avoid learning.
Learning can be painful, humbling, and hard. And only win-win deals teach you  anything useful. Economist Adam Smith described the process more than 250 years ago. Willing buyers and sellers discover what things are worth (what someone is willing to pay).
This information directs – like an “invisible hand” – investors, producers, and consumers. Result? More wealth (or, in other words, satisfaction). This learning metaphor is more useful than we thought: How do you learn? By trying. When do you try? When you have to.
 
Adam Smith’s famous tome…
 
Why does extreme poverty persist in Baltimore and other places? Because the feds pay people not to try – and not to learn. Why do rich kids often get nowhere in life? Because their parents give them money; they don’t have to figure things out for themselves.

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Will the Establishment Stab Trump in the Back?

February 27, 2017

Ranting and Raving
LOVINGSTON, VIRGINIA – The public spectacle continues…   There are so many ways to look at it, we scarcely know whether to laugh or gasp. A week ago, President Trump took the sound and fury up a notch by way of his Twitter account:
 
The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!
 
The president in fighting mode.
Photo credit: David Becker / Rezters
 

Here at the Diary, we offer no news. And no opinions. We just try to make sense of it all. We do so by comparing what’s going on today to other events, other people, and other times.
Analogy is all we have to go on. And so far, the best match we have found for Mr. Trump is former Argentine President Juan Perón. A colorful, larger-than-life rascal, Perón “took on the Establishment” south of the Río de la Plata.
Perón didn’t have Twitter. He didn’t have “fake news.” All he had were old-fashioned speeches and old-fashioned lies. He railed against the rich, the landowners and the church.
And he ranted against the newspapers, the bankers  and the universities. The plain people loved it. Perón spoke for them. He stood up to the old elite. But he didn’t drain the swamp. He didn’t even drain the sink.
Instead, he took over the Establishment’s power and used it for himself.

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Is an Inflation Comeback in the Works?

February 23, 2017

Exterminating Angel
LOVINGSTON, VIRGINIA – Amid all the sound and fury of the Trump news cycle, hardly anyone noticed. There is a specter haunting this economy. It is the specter of inflation…
 
See, if you want to whip inflation now, you don’t need to do any of the really difficult things, such as printing less money… or God forbid, return to honest, market-chosen money (shudder!). All you need is intelligent nutrition!
Image credit: Marshall Astor
 

Bloomberg has the report:
 
The U.S. cost of living increased in January by the most since February 2013, led by higher costs for gasoline and other goods and services that indicate inflation is gathering momentum. The consumer-price index rose a larger-than-forecast 0.6% after a 0.3% gain in December, Labor Department figures showed Wednesday. Compared with the same month last year, costs paid by Americans for goods and services rose 2.5%, the most since March 2012.
 
French investment bank Natixis makes a related observation:
 
The return of inflation in the euro zone with the rise in the oil price will drive the European Central Bank to give up QE […] Our estimate is that an end to QE would raise interest rates by 110 basis points.
 
Wait – inflation is what the Fed has been looking for. And the latest numbers reveal it may have already reached the Fed’s target of 2%.

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Unleashing Wall Street

February 22, 2017

To Unleash or Not to Unleash, That is the Question…
LOVINGSTON, VIRGINIA –  Corporate earnings have been going down for nearly three years. They are now about 10% below the level set in the late summer of 2014. Why should stocks be so expensive?
 
Example of something that one should better not unleash. The probability that a win-lose proposition will develop upon meeting it seems high. It wins, because it gets to eat…
Image credit: Urs Hagen
 

Oh, yes… because the Trump Team is going to light a fire under Wall Street. But they must be wondering about that, too. Raising up stock prices – as we’ve seen over the last eight years – is not the same as restoring economic growth and family incomes.
And as each day passes, the list of odds against either seems to be getting longer and longer. As the petty fights, silly squabbles, and tweet storms increase, the less ammunition the administration has available to fight a real battle with Congress or the Deep State.
Still – “Goldman Stock Hits Record on Bets Trump Will Unleash Wall Street,” reads a Bloomberg headline. Goldman Sachs is a pillar of the Establishment, with its man, Steve Mnuchin, heading the Department of the Treasury. So a win for Goldman is not necessarily a win for us.
“Unleashing” suggests a win-win deal, as in allowing the financial industry to get on with its business.

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