On Politics

     

 

 

 

 

 


 

I write this with sadness, still, at the news of the death of my friend Heinz Blasnik. He is better known by his nom de plume, Pater Tenebrarum, who published the economics blog Acting Man and wrote for many other financial sites.

I met Heinz twice, at his home in Vienna. He was a kind and gracious host, sending his driver to pick me up and serving Austrian delicacies for lunch. When I met him, he was struggling near the end of a long illness which was the result of a youthful adventure. Even so, he retained a benevolent sense of life, and a positive spirit.

But this is not why I wanted to write this. We were friends because we shared some ideas. Important ideas. Ideas about the nature of the world, and mankind, and how man can work together and coordinate their productive activities. Economics and business are my life, and Heinz was the same way.

What better basis for a friendship than sharing important values?

Heinz was deeply, passionately interested in helping people understand economics. I know not how much time he gave to this cause—unpaid, as blogs do not make money—but it was surely more than I spend. He engaged with those who were interested. Sadly, Austrian economics is not mainstream, though there are more than enough people to keep a teacher—or sensei—busy. He was willing to correspond with me, and I credit his articles and emails for helping shape my own views.

We did not always agree. If you put 3 economists in a room then you have at least 4 opinions. But even when not, he listened with benevolent intention and did not make it personal. It was always about the ideas. I think this is an important and uncommon virtue.

On one of my visits, we discussed life, the universe, and everything. And he told me a bit about the Austrian welfare state. Which led me to write The Service Economy. I have traveled around the world, and I have shared food and drink with friends in many countries. Yet that one conversation with Heinz stands out as interesting and important. I can only recall one other discussion with one other friend that led directly to me writing an essay.

I don’t think Heinz believed in Heaven, but I hope everyone will understand when I say this. I would look forward to a day—many years in the future, I hope—when I could meet Heinz for beers in Heaven, and continue our conversation where it left off in 2021.

Adieu Heinz.

 

Dr. Keith Weiner is the president of the Gold Standard Institute USA, and CEO of Monetary Metals. Keith is a leading authority in the areas of gold, money, and credit and has made important contributions to the development of trading techniques founded upon the analysis of bid-ask spreads. Keith is a sought after speaker and regularly writes on economics. He is an Objectivist, and has his PhD from the New Austrian School of Economics. He lives with his wife near Phoenix, Arizona.

 

     

 

 

Putting the World on a Paper Standard

Half a century ago one of the most disastrous monetary policy decisions in US history was committed by Richard Nixon.  In a television address, the president declared that the nation would no longer redeem internationally dollars for gold.  Since the dollar was the world’s reserve currency, Nixon’s closing of the “Gold Window” put the world on an irredeemable paper monetary standard.

 

Richard Nixon during his televised speech on the “temporary” closing of the gold window (effectively a debt default). [PT]

 

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Lessons to be Learned from East Asia

The world should take a lesson from how East Asia ran itself in 2020. Japan had no lockdown. None. With an aging population, its death rate has been creeping up for many years. In 2020, it fell by 0.7%, as if Covid-19 was a life-saver.

 

Daily new cases in Singapore – Covid-19 seems to be pretty much under control there. [PT]

 

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Scavengers Out in Full Force

I have just returned from a visit to my family in India. It was hard to escape. To get to the US from India, I needed a COVID test. The Indian government has seriously restricted who can provide COVID testing, treatment, and vaccination. Private doctors and hospitals that are not approved face brutal legal consequences if they provide COVID treatment.

 

India’s experience with the COVID pandemic was particularly unpleasant… [PT]

 

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Shooting from the Hip

[ed. note: the tweets linked below mainly show videos from various lockdown phases]

 

Reminiscent of his demonetization effort in 2016, on 24th March 2020, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, appeared on TV and declared an immediate nationwide curfew. No one was to be allowed to leave wherever he or she happened to be. All flights, trains (after 167 years of continual operation) and road transportation came to a complete, shrieking halt.

 

Stranded in India… [PT]

 

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Value Traps and Economic Ignorance

A financial analyst is often, or at least should be, more of a psychologist than a financial expert. There are companies that I knew fifteen years ago that had inherent value a multiple of what their stocks were trading at. Today, there continues to be similar upside, except that upside targets and share prices are lower. What went wrong?

 

A problem reaches the far North faster than climate change can melt all the ice. [PT]

 

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Dead Men Don’t Spend

The checks went forth yesterday.

And all the peoples rejoiced.

 

Stimulus blinders firmly attached! Let’s go! Mars is within reach! [PT]

 

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The Stress of Losing Billions

Up until the WallStreetBets crowd short squeezed Melvin Capital for a $7 billion loss, Robinhood had it made. But losing billions is stressful. And when your product blows up your customer the clucking that follows comes hot and heavy.

 

A surprise revival of business at Game-Stop… [PT]

 

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The Lure of Easy Money

Right now happens to be an attractive time to do something stupid.  What’s more, everyone is doing it.  Maybe you are too. Stock valuations and corporate earnings growth no longer appear to matter.  Why not buy an S&P 500 index fund and let it ride?  Or, better yet, why not buy shares of Nvidia?

 

NVDA, weekly, over the past 6 years. The stock really started to take off after the 2016 election surprisingly brought an administration to power that was willing to cut taxes and roll back regulations. This vastly improved the competitive position of US-based companies in the world and boosted their profit margins. Other favorable narratives accompanied the rise of NVDA and other tech stocks specifically, such as the cryptocurrency mania and the increase in demand fostered by the pandemic. Add to that the biggest driver of them all – an unprecedented exercise in money printing by the Fed and other central banks – and a bubble for the ages emerged. And that is where we now are: in the greatest stock market mania of all time. [PT]

 

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Autographing Funny Money

The United States Secretary of the Treasury bears a shameful job duty. They must place their autograph on the face of the Federal Reserve’s legal tender notes. Here, for the whole world to witness, the Treasury Secretary provides signature endorsement; their personal ratification of unconstitutional money.

 

Janet Yellen – first she got to print a lot of funny money, now she gets to autograph it. The Titanic meanwhile finds itself in uncharted waters and rumor has it that there may be icebergs lurking not too far from here. [PT]

 

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Full Commitment

This week provided additional confirmation that America is fully committed to a program of currency destruction.  Decades of terminal intelligence have gotten us to this special place.  We will have more on this in a moment.  But first some words on being fully committed.

 

Say hello to the provider of bacon… lots of bacon, in this case. [PT]

 

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Prophet of Doom

In 1976, economist Herbert Stein, father of Ben Stein, the economics professor in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, observed that U.S. government debt was on an unsustainable trajectory.  He, thus, established Stein’s Law:

 

“If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.”

 

Herbert Stein, looking worried about the budget deficit. [PT]

 

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