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July 25, 2011

DOOM is our burden, and we shall carry it


So Speaker Boehner was making alarmed noises over the weekend about what would happen to the markets if no deal was reached over the weekend. As I write this, stock futures are down, but the bond markets are basically giving a big yawn to the whole thing. Maybe it's just me, but I'm starting to think that the politicians want to provoke a financial panic to serve their own political ends. (But then: Obama may fear losing the election more than he fears default.)

The WSJ notices something that has been apparent to the rest of us for a long while now: President Obama does not want to cut spending. Nor do his Democrat bretheren in the House and Senate. The only real raison d'etre of the Democratic Party in the 21st Century is to hand out "goodies" to various victim-groups, and their only real imperative is to keep the gravy-train rolling. The collapse of the Socialist/Marxist ideology in the last century hollowed out the ideological core of the Left -- all they have left is the statist impulse, with no guiding philosophy behind it.

Roger Kimball from PajamasMedia compares the debt-ceiling debate to the labors of Heracles. (That's "Hercules" to you Latinate swine.)

I am a cynic about the debt-ceiling thing -- I think it's a sideshow -- but it may be that the Treasury's liquidity is worse than thought. (You can look at my Saturday essay for the difference between liquidity and solvency.) Just bear in mind that what they're talking about in this specific case is a (possible) liquidity problem.

There was a really good article by Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto over the weekend entitled "The Destruction of Economic Facts", and I urge you to read it. de Soto lays a finger on one of the biggest dangers facing our economic system in the 21st century -- the loss of transparency in the markets, and the inability of regulators and investors alike to discover who is holding what, what prices are being paid, or even who actually owns what assets. (The notional size of this "shadow" financial system? About $700 Trillion dollars, or the GDP of the entire world for ten years.) (h/t to rdbrewer for the link.)

Transparency and discoverability is vital to a healthy economic system. If you go to buy a good, you have to know what the price is, and you have to know that the person selling the good has legal standing to do so.

Why is teenage unemployment at an all-time high? Because adults are filling all the low-end jobs that teenagers used to do. It's not just the economic downturn that has caused this: illegal immigration, the minimum wage law, over-regulation, burdensome corporate taxes, and outsized costs to employers for hiring new employees are all factors.

Is the China "bubble" about to pop?

Meanwhile, Gold hit a new high over the weekend at $1620/oz. You can read this as a vote of "no confidence" in the political class.

Every day brings more evidence that Atlas Shrugged was not fiction, but prophecy.

There are those brave souls who push back against the statist juggernaut and try to keep market-economy principles alive. Like these Louisiana monks.

UPDATE 1: Education bubble? What education bubble?

Someday you will bow to me, puny human. Soon!

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posted by Monty at 09:02 AM

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