Miscellaneous

     

 

 

Democratic Fantasy

BALTIMORE – Fidel Castro was regarded as a revolutionary and a “change agent.”

But he is better understood as a throwback, more of a counter-revolutionary than a real revolutionary. The real revolution in human affairs happened long before he was born… and is still going on – the revolution led by civilized free-market capitalism.

 

timeFinger-wagging Fidel Castro on the cover of TIME in 1965, which by this time accused his revolution of “decaying”. The US government initially continued to subsidize Cuba in the wake of Castro’s takeover as he had given less than truthful assurances that the “handful of communists” in his cabinet had no influence on Cuba’s policies. The Batista government’s economic policies had a great many statist features as well, so at first it seemed as though the differences between the two regimes would only be marginal – mainly, someone else would do the stealing. By the time the above cover story was published, the US was waging a full-scale economic war against Cuba. It is rare for a classical peasants’ revolt to actually succeed. Castro’s victory over Batista was quite a feat in that sense; not surprisingly, it elicited the admiration of Leftists the world over. Castro was not a Stalinist, presumably not least because Khrushchev had “de-Stalinized” the Soviet Union, but he did declare himself a Marxist-Leninist (which Stalin incidentally had claimed to be as well). The political Left’s misguided admiration for Castro never wavered though.

 

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A Confession

RHINEBECK, New York – Is the stock market dead? Nothing is happening there. It is the first of November. The countdown to the elections has begun; the nation seems to hold its breath.

 

supreme1The US Supreme Court is “up for grabs”  – but does it even matter? Not if one considers the court’s history. It is essentially a rubber stamp for the State, giving legal cover to its transgressions.

Photo credit: Joe Ravi

 

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Holding Pattern

When it comes to interesting charts or marginally promising setups I’m pretty much scraping the bottom of the barrel right now. Not surprising really, given that the few remaining market participants (bots! cough cough) are firmly set in a holding pattern after a one year sideways churn and an impending Presidential election on November 8th which is thought to have the potential to be the catalyst for changes in the financial arena. I for one hold very little hopes on that end, no matter which of the two candidates will be sworn in come January.

 

jack_electro_shocksThere’s always the loonie though…

Photo credit: Fantasy Films

 

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Lurid Media Coverage

In recent months, more and more of our clients and friends from overseas are asking us whether it is safe to travel to Europe. These fears are understandable, given the media coverage of the tragic events that occurred this year. The press painted a sinister and truly graphic picture of Europe as a war zone, as a target of global terrorism.

 

the-scenes-inside-brussels-airport-after-the-attackInside the Brussels airport shortly after the bomb blast in March.

Photo credit: Pavel Ohal

 

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Escaping the Hurricane

BALTIMORE – Last week, we got a peek at the End of the World. As Hurricane Matthew approached the coast of Florida, a panic set in. Gas stations ran out of fuel. Stores ran out of food. Banks ran out of cash.

 

satellite-imageA satellite image of hurricane Matthew taken on October 4. He didn’t look very friendly.

Image via twitter.com

 

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Introductory Remarks by PT:

At first we actually didn’t want to post this particular Diary entry, because we felt it was too “off topic” (although we do of course occasionally discuss off topic issues), but upon further reflection it struck us that it is actually quite interesting when considered in a broader context.

 

EU spending on ag

EU spending: most of the budget is spent on subsidizing agriculture (which represents less than 2% of total economic output). As is the case with all government spending, it has turned out to be a burden rather than a boon, even for those it is supposed to help – click to enlarge.

 

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$300 Trillion in Debt

DUBLIN – After our trip to Las Vegas, we spent one night in Baltimore and then got on another airplane. Standing in line, unpacking bags, getting zapped by X-ray machines – it has all become so routine we almost forget how absurd it is.

 

 

A TSA agent waits for passengers to pass through a magnetometer at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on November 22, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. Some passengers are subjected to Advanced Imaging Technology AIT scanners that see through clothing to photograph the entire body to reveal undisclosed objects. Increasing use of the scanner at airports by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is being met with outrage by many US travelers. Passengers who refuse an X-ray scan are required to undergo an intimate pat down by TSA agents.Get ready to be invaded, citizen…

Photo by David McNew / Getty Images

 

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Myths and Legends

“Myths and legends die hard in America,” remarked Hunter S. Thompson in The Great Shark Hunt, nearly 40-years ago.  Thompson didn’t likely have U.S. Treasury bonds in mind when he made this observation.  Though, if he were still alive, he may find the present state of the great Treasury bond bubble to be an amusing anecdote.

 

huntersthompson2Gonzo! Hunter S. Thompson, who had the theory that the truth is never told during the nine-to-five hours…

 

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The Importance of Cabbages

LONDON – A dear reader challenged us:

 

“To create a perfect world what type of government would you propose?”

 

Another put it a different way:

 

“Again, I’m convinced more than ever, Trump is the only candidate that might have a chance to get us out of the financial and economic mess the United States is in. If Bonner & Partners is unable to recognize this, it tells me their agenda is not to fix America’s problems… but continue the agony…”

 

diocletian in retirement hrEmperor Diocletian in retirement, talking to his security detail. Famous quotes made on occasion of his decision to become a cabbage farmer: Diocletian: “Cabbages don’t talk back”. Maximianus (a.k.a. “M”, his co-regent as “Augustus of the West” from AD 286 to AD 305): “You’ve lost your marbles, old chap”.  It later turned out that M’s assessment was erroneous. He got bored and came out of retirement after just one year to help his son Maxentius in his fight over the succession, as the “tetrarchy” put in place by Diocletian threatened to splinter. Maximianus  succeeded in sorting things out in favor of his son, but not even two years later he recognized he had made a fateful mistake: Maxentius was actually unfit to rule. Maximianus not only told him so, but actually told everybody. Then he ripped the imperial toga from Maxentius before an assembly of soldiers, expecting the soldiers to side with him (he was an old war horse and battlefield hero after all). That turned out to be a miscalculation – instead was chased out of Italy in disgrace. Should have gone for cabbage farming too!

Engraving by Charlotte Mary Yonge

 

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Laughing at Blue Monday

On May 28, 1962 – dubbed “Blue Monday” – the market fell 6%… its worst single-day slide since 1929.

Peter Stormonth Darling was an investment manager at investment bank S. G. Warburg & Co. at the time. He strolled in to tell his boss, Tony Griffin, how much the market had fallen.

 

1-DJIA, 1961-1962-annThe DJIA in 1961 – 1962. March – June 1962 delivered quite a scare to investors – in May the decline accelerated, as panic began to spread – click to enlarge.

 

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Insulting Mr. Erdoğan Can Be Dangerous

Most of our readers are probably aware by now that the German government finds itself in a rather awkward situation over its relations with Turkey’s government again – with which the EU has just struck a widely criticized and very expensive deal to help it stem the flood of refugees.

One thing is absolutely certain about Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: He has no sense of humor whatsoever.  As of early March 2016, 1,845 lawsuits were pending in Turkey for “insulting the president”. To see how extremely ridiculous most of these cases are, consider the one involving the pictures below:

 

 

golloerd22aBilgin Çiftçi was fired from his job at Turkey’s public health service last October and detained after comparing Erdoğan to Gollum. He could face up to two years in prison. His lawyer Hicran Danisman said she was forced to argue in court that “Gollum is not a bad character” because she “got nowhere with a defense case based on freedom of expression”. The trial has now been adjourned to give the court time to “consult with a group of experts on whether Gollum is a good or a bad character”.

 

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A Rara Avis – The World Is Poorer Without Him In It

Our friend Dr. Tibor Machan, a greatly valued contributor to this site, has passed away on March 24.

 

Tibor 2Dr. Tibor Machan, libertarian philosopher

 

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