Submitted by Staff on Mon, 2008-12-22 15:20.
Billions of dollars were recently lost in the collapse of Bernie Madoff’s self-described Ponzi scheme, in which too-good-to-be-true returns on investments were not really returns at all, but the funds of defrauded new investors. The pyramid scheme collapsed dramatically when too many clients called in their accounts, and not enough new victims could be found to support these withdrawals. Bernie Madoff was running a blatant fraud operation. Fraud is already illegal, and he will be facing criminal consequences, which is as it should be, and should act as an appropriate deterrent to potential future criminals. But it seems every time someone breaks the law, politicians and pundits decide we need more laws, even though lack of laws was not the problem.
Submitted by Staff on Mon, 2008-10-27 12:50.
With news this week that Congress is poised to consider a new stimulus package, I am forced to again ask a question that seems silly in Washington: How will we pay for this?
While a few Members of Congress have raised the issue, it certainly was not the primary concern of the House Budget Committee when they interviewed Ben Bernanke on Monday. And, when they did direct this question to the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, his answer was the standard rhetoric about how Congress needed to make tough choices. Needless to say, not many specifics were discussed.
Submitted by Staff on Mon, 2008-10-20 13:27.
In the midst of highly unpopular bailouts of Wall Street, many justifications have been given about why Washington feels the need to act. Some claim that capitalism and the free market are to blame, but we have not had capitalism. If you compare our financial capital to our aggregate debt, this would be obvious. In the same way, we have not had a truly free market. The monetary manipulations of the Federal Reserve, a complex tax code, the many “oversight” agencies and their mountains of regulations show that we are far removed from a free market economy.
Another unsatisfying argument is that certain entities have to be bailed out because of their economic importance. Supposedly, some entities can be so big, so important, that no matter what they do, citizens must perpetually sustain them.
Submitted by Staff on Tue, 2008-10-14 12:27.
It has been long understood that our federal government is going deeper into debt, consistently raising the debt ceiling and demonstrating no fiscal restraint. In recent years, debt ceiling increases have been placed in “must pass” legislation as a means to guarantee that Republicans as well as Democrats would vote for them when Congress was under Republican control.
We also know our nation’s “negative savings rate” reflects the habits of private citizens, showing those habits to be not tremendously different than the habits of the public sector. Yet, the signs of decline are becoming ever more apparent. So apparent, in fact, that it seems unlikely that bailouts or other gimmicks will have even short term success. More inflation, and creating moral hazard by bailing out egregious offenders, is a recipe for disaster. These activities can seem to provide some short term relief, but it seems we are now at a significant crisis point, where monetary policy gimmicks don’t provide the band-aids they did in the past.
Submitted by Staff on Tue, 2008-10-07 00:00.
For more than 175 years, messengers known as pages have served the United States Congress. Currently, approximately 100 young men and women from across the nation serve as pages at any given time. Pages must be high school juniors and at least 16 years of age. Pages are appointed and sponsored by a Representative or Senator for one academic semester of the school year, or a summer session. The right to appoint pages rotates among Members pursuant to criteria set by the respective chamber leadership. Academic standing is one of the most important criteria used in the final selection of pages.
Submitted by Staff on Mon, 2008-10-06 12:41.
It has not been a good week for the Republic. It took quite a bit of trampling of the Constitution, but the bailout bill passed, as I suspected it would.
The bailout failed the first time it was brought to the House. Undaunted, the Senate pressed on by attaching the bailout as an amendment to another House passed bill that was pending in the Senate. The new bailout version had new taxes, so according to the Constitution it should not have originated in the Senate.
Submitted by Staff on Fri, 2008-10-03 00:00.
Madame Speaker, only in Washington could a bill demonstrably worse than its predecessor be brought back for another vote and actually expect to gain votes. That this bailout was initially defeated was a welcome surprise, but the power-brokers in Washington and on Wall Street could not allow that defeat to be permanent. It was most unfortunate that this monstrosity of a bill, loaded up with even more pork, was able to pass.
The Federal Reserve has already injected hundreds of billions of dollars into US and world credit markets. The adjusted monetary base is up sharply, bank reserves have exploded, and the national debt is up almost half a trillion dollars over the past two weeks. Yet, we are still told that after all this intervention, all this inflation, that we still need an additional $700 billion bailout, otherwise the credit markets will seize and the economy will collapse. This is the same excuse that preceded previous bailouts, and undoubtedly we will hear it again in the future after this bailout fails.
Submitted by Staff on Mon, 2008-09-29 11:38.
This time last week, the biggest bailout in the history of the world seemed to be a fait accompli. Last weekend, the Fed Chairman and the Secretary of the Treasury had harsh words of doom and gloom for Congressional leaders, with the rest of the administration parroting along, and by last Monday it seemed both parties were about to fall in line and vote our Republic away by socializing the banking industry through this bailout.
Foolish business behavior was about to be rewarded, and propped up a little longer, the bubble blown a little bigger, and our coming Depression made that much greater, but then something happened on the way to the House floor.
Submitted by Staff on Mon, 2008-09-22 14:12.
On September 10, 2002 I asked 35 questions regarding war with Iraq. The war resolution passed on October 16, 2002. Now today, as some of my colleagues try to reestablish credentials regarding spending restraint, I want to call attention to my 18th question from six years ago:
“Are we willing to bear the economic burden of a 100 billion dollar war against Iraq, with oil prices expected to skyrocket and further rattle an already shaky American economy? How about an estimated 30 year occupation of Iraq that some have deemed necessary to "build democracy" there?”
Submitted by Staff on Mon, 2008-09-15 12:29.
I’ve discussed just a few benefits of sound money in the last two weeks, and contrasted them to the perils of fiat currency. Sound money keeps government spending in check, keeps trade fair and honest, which reduces the temptations, and many underlying causes, for governments to wage wars. It also gives you the peace of mind of knowing that your savings will be able to sustain you in your retirement.
So if sound money is such a good thing, what is stopping people from simply trading with each other in gold and silver? Why are you still being paid in fiat dollars, and why can’t you pay for gas in gold? The answer is that the government has enacted policies that provide considerable stumbling blocks to such transactions.
Submitted by Staff on Wed, 2008-09-10 00:00.
Mr. Chairman, once again we confront the issue of sovereign wealth funds, an issue which has become quite important due to the large amount of dollars and dollar-denominated bonds held by foreign governments, and the fears of these governments given the dollar's precipitous decline over the past few years. The past few days have been quite interesting, with speculation that one of the reasons for the government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was the more than $1 trillion in Fannie and Freddie debt held by foreign governments. The threat of default on this debt would have undoubtedly had massive repercussions on the value of the dollar and might have unleashed the “nuclear threat” of a massive international sell-off of government and agency debt.
Submitted by Staff on Mon, 2008-09-08 11:56.
Last week I discussed how sound money contributes to peaceful relationships around the world. It is not gold, in and of itself that excites me, but the many benefits of sound money. Another benefit is financial security.
Can sound money give you financial security? There is something very comforting in knowing that what you earn today will retain its purchasing power in the years to come. Indeed, the same silver dime that bought a loaf of bread in the 1960's can still buy a loaf of bread with its precious metal content – which is worth about $1.00 today. An ounce of gold has always been about evenly exchangeable for a finely tailored men's suit, which these days is roughly $800. And in these days of fluctuating gas prices, when priced in gold, oil has been stable. Meanwhile, since the creation of the Federal Reserve, the fiat dollar has lost 94f its purchasing power. The erosion of purchasing power rapidly accelerated when it was completely uncoupled from gold in 1971. This sort of fluctuation in the medium of exchange creates a lot of uncertainty in the marketplace and necessitates that you either take extraordinary defensive maneuvers, or face financial ruin. Trusting in government for financial security in retirement is not a safe option. Indeed, a recent study by the Consumer Bankruptcy Project shows that bankruptcies among those 75 and older has more than quadrupled since 1991. This represents wealth and savings that have been eroded by inflation, and trust in entitlement promises that were more fantasy than reality. Even with the pittance that social security pays to seniors, it is bankrupt and bringing the economy to its knees. It is no wonder that many in the younger generations want no part of it, and they should not be forced into a failed system.
Submitted by Staff on Sun, 2008-08-31 12:26.
Many who agree with me on a lot of other issues, do not understand my enthusiasm for gold and sound money or why I spend so much time studying and talking about monetary policy. It's true that I talk about money differently than most, but the fact is sound money offers many benefits. For example – peace.
Can sound money really bring about peace? Actually, it plays a big part in peaceful international relationships. Money based on commodities, rather than paper, is not subject to government manipulation, and is a key component to free and honest trade. History shows that if countries engage in trade with each other, their governments tend to find ways to get along for the same reason you do not kill your customers at your place of business, even if they occasionally annoy you. If someone outright cheats you, however, you may engage in “war” by taking them to court, for example, and the relationship will sour. Governments and central banks with unfettered power to manipulate currency also have the ability to cheat their creditors. One way they do this is to simply create enough currency to pay off debts. This devalues the currency and “cheats” the recipient out of what they are owed. It would not be fair if you watered down your product the way our government waters down its currency, so it is not hard to understand, in these simplified terms, why loose monetary policy contributes so much to ill will and war around the world.
Submitted by Staff on Mon, 2008-08-25 12:01.
As the Olympics wind down, I am amazed at how things change every four years. Many Americans were glued to their televisions to watch the excitement from Beijing, and also heard announcers wax nostalgic with memories of times when the Soviet Union was the USA's biggest competitor for Olympic gold. There was a time when it was unthinkable that a government as powerful as that of the Soviet Union's could possibly crumble, yet crumble it did. The irony is that the strength of the Soviet government was also its weakness, as no country, no economic system can remain strong under the crushing burden that is central planning.
Central Planning is sold to a hopeful people as a way to solve societal problems, to right wrongs, and bring about perfect justice and equality. Central Planning promises you everything you are entitled to. As a bonus, goods and services produced by others are added to the list of commodities that everyone has a "right" to. Suddenly everyone is entitled to healthcare, housing, education, food, et cetera. It might sound nice that the state will magically provide all these wonderful things, but these rosy promises mask a dehumanizing, ugly reality. The other side of these entitlements is that now the doctor, the builder, the teacher, the farmer are slaves to the all-powerful state. No longer do they serve patients, students, or customers. They work in complete obedience to the state, their only customer.
Submitted by Staff on Mon, 2008-08-18 11:58.
We've heard how the value of the dollar affects gas prices – and indeed the price of everything. I was pleased that my request for a hearing on such was granted by the Financial Services committee and we were able to hear some very informative testimony. Certainly domestic policies, regarding off-shore oil drilling bans, ethanol mandates, refining capacity, and CAFE standards are interventionist and harmful enough in the energy market.
But how does foreign policy affect gas prices? One important factor is that oil on the world market has been priced in dollars exclusively since 1973. Only two leaders have gone against this arrangement - Saddam Hussein in 2000 and more recently Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with the recently opened Iranian Oil Bourse which trades in non-dollar currencies. But since oil is otherwise exclusively traded in dollars, this means that oil producers have vast amounts of assets held in dollars. Especially since the War on Terror and the PATRIOT Act, many oil-producing nations and banks are concerned the US government may freeze assets based on flimsy pretexts. This fear contributes to dollar weakness, and therefore also high oil prices.