Just print money and give it to everyone by Chris Arnade: "The usual answer to why we don't do this is that it isn't politically feasible and there is no precedent. 1) That has never stopped bank bailouts, which often require a great deal of political and regulatory ingenuity to jam through. (TARP cough TARP) 2) It is a symptom of a system built by and for the bankers to benefit themselves. It is the equivalent of saying, 'We can't do it because we have never wanted to do it'. That we don't do it this way isn't just a small economic quibble with no impact. The most visceral anger I hear from voters across the country is directed at bank bailouts, which they see as evidence of a rigged system. They are right. The system is rigged in the sense that our primary method to stimulate the economy also conveniently bails out bankers." (previously; via) [more inside]
an introduction to fiat money (pdf) by Steve Randy Waldman:* - "Self-reinforcing bootstrap dynamics hold as strongly for a king's token as it would for any other thing, but much more stably so, since the king can reinforce and assure the stability of his token so long as he retains the political capacity to coerce or persuade payment of tax." (via) [more inside]
Helicopter drops might not be far away - "Central banks could be given the power to send money, ideally in electronic form, to every adult citizen. Would this add to demand? Absolutely."
FINLAND: New Government Commits to a Basic Income Experiment - "The Finnish government of Juha Sipilä is considering a pilot project that would give everyone of working age a basic income."[1,2,3] (via) [more inside]
A short history of gaming in Brazil: "To understand the history of gaming in Brazil dear reader, you must know a little bit about our political and economic history ... In 1991, a small publisher by the name of GSA published a roleplaying game called Tagmar [translation], often lauded as the first Brazilian RPG. ... They also released Desafio dos Bandeirantes, a game set in 17th century colonial Brazil using regional folklore instead of European myths, and a sci-fi game, Millenia [translation] ... In February 1994, the Brazilian authorities set in motion a major economic plan that invigorated the Brazilian economy for the first time since 1973. By March, the currency stabilized enough to assure the population (and companies) that their money would be worth the same by the end of the week ... The happy result for gamers was that companies started buying game licenses right and left." Via. See also History of Brazilian RPGs, History of Brazilian RPG magazines, Role-playing games in education in Brazil: how we do it [PDF], and President Cardoso reflects on Brazil and sociology.
"The detection of gravitational waves in the afterglow of the Big Bang — if confirmed — opens a new chapter in astronomy, cosmology and physics. The signature, seen by the BICEP2 radio telescope at the South Pole, packs at least three discoveries into one: It provides the most direct evidence for the existence of the waves predicted by Einstein; it is the proof of ‘cosmic inflation’ that physicists had been eagerly awaiting; and it opens a window into the unification of the fundamental forces of nature and into quantum gravity." NYT article, in depth Nature News feature. [more inside]
Free Money for Everyone - "A wacky-sounding idea with surprisingly conservative roots may be our best hope for escaping endless, grinding economic stagnation." (via) [more inside]
Like James Bond movies? And box office grosses? And visualized data? Then today is your lucky day.
“Kipper und Wipper”: Rogue Traders, Rogue Princes, Rogue Bishops and the German Financial Meltdown of 1621-23
There will be no big Federal bureaucracy set up for this crash program. Through the courtesy of such volunteers from the communication and media fields, a very simple enlistment form will appear in many of tomorrow's newspapers along with the symbol of this new mobilization, which I am wearing on my lapel. It bears the single word WIN. I think that tells it all. [more inside]
Paul Krugman has really been laying into the hyperinflationists in recent days. And rightfully so... these predictions, as Dr. Krugman notes, were based on a model that is completely wrong. [more inside]
Last month, The Atlantic reported that since 1980s, the price of a metallic NYC taxi license has grown four-times faster than the average home or a brick of gold, claiming it to be a wonderful "inflation hedge." This report proved prescient; on Friday two such medallions (which merely represent the taxi's license) just sold for $1 million apiece — a 42% increase just since August. Also on Friday, mere hours after reading the newsstand headlines, Midtown Manhattan resident Tom Poteat looked down to see a medallion, unattached to its taxi, lying on the sidewalk.
Out of thin air? "Have you ever said something like 'Let me buy you a beer next week'? I'm sure you have. We all issue promises of this sort. And we frequently use such promises as a form of currency... I have just described a simple credit exchange. Societies rely heavily on promising-making and promise-keeping. It is the foundation of all financial markets. I'd like to point out something about the promises you make. They are made 'out of thin air.' " [more inside]
According to The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), the US recession which started in December 2007 actually ended in June 2009. But unemployment (not to be confused with under-employment), always considered to be a lagging indicator, has continued to rise. [more inside]
Victor Borge (previously, gtwo but not fivegoteleven) was well known five his "inflationary language" routine. The fivemula: number sounds in ordinary language are "inflnined" to the next-highest numbers -- "twoderful" becomes "threederful," "threelips" become "fourlips," "fivefathers" become "sixfathers," and so on. Here is a twoderful web toy that will inflnine arbitrary text, or inflnine the language of any website. An example, using a story Borge crenined five this purpose. [more inside]
Britain Is Puzzled by Its Inflation Problem in a Downturn. Inflation in Britain is an economic mystery. It seems unique in the Western World which on the whole is closer to the dangers of deflation than inflation. April of this year was particularly bad - in an inflation spike that alarmed Britain, 'British price inflation including housing costs hit a 20-year high of 5.3% in April, sending shockwaves through an economy still struggling to exit recession'. [more inside]
The First Bank of the United States was Americas first attempt at forming a Central Bank. Inaugurated by Congress in 1791, it was followed by The Second Bank of the United States, which was dissolved in 1836.
And then The United States of America was without a Central Bank for 77 years. [more inside]
And then The United States of America was without a Central Bank for 77 years. [more inside]
Why is deflation far worse than inflation? After all, prices are falling, goods and services get cheaper, what's not to like? [more inside]
First Zimbabwe formally abandoned their currency, then received assistance from The IMF, and now now we're seeing inflation in that nation easing to an acceptable rate of 0.04% per month. So it's fair to ask, is hyperinflation in Zimbabwe is a thing of the past? [more inside]
The Bulls vs. Bears? The incessant back and forth between equity market longs and shorts is well known to most retail investors via a variety of distribution channels; financial television, the print media, online news. But the really big market battle, one with the potential to impact the entire US economy, happens, as is usual in finance, just out of sight of retail eyes ... [more inside]
Don't listen to 'economists', its all about the Cave of Wealth and Death, the Godess of Inflation and Derivatives Beast. In an astonishing 3 parts (so far).
As the national debt is monetized we may revive that phrase "you needed a wheelbarrow of cash to buy a loaf of bread." Notgeld, German for "Emergency Money" or "necessity money." 896 beautiful examples.
Tangible evidence of deflation? The prices of commodities, houses and a wide range of consumer goods have collapsed, with observers predicting continued declines. While many point back to The Great Depression as an example of damaging deflation, the recession of 1920-1921, a frequently overlooked period in economic history, is perhaps the best example we've got of a deflationary wave similar to what might now taking place. [more inside]
Even as I.O.U.S.A, a documentary looking at the United States' $53T national debt, is to be shown at both the Democratic and Republican conventions, economists are beginning to openly discuss the previously unthinkable - should America should default on some or perhaps all it's obligations? [more inside]
John H. Summers taught at Harvard. He didn't like the students much. And said so. Lots of Harvard students respond. Let the Wild Rumpus Start! (via AL Daily) [more inside]
The US Federal Reserve has allowed ... its credibility fall "below zero". Barclays Capital said in its closely-watched Global Outlook that US headline inflation would hit 5.5pc by August and the Fed will have to raise interest rates six times by the end of next year to prevent a wage-spiral. "This is the first test for central banks in 30 years and they have fluffed it. They have zero credibility, and the Fed is negative if that's possible. It has lost all credibility." [more inside]
"Hard Numbers: The Economy is Worse than You Know" [full article for Harper's subscribers, a different abridged version] discusses how the Consumer Price Index and other US economic statistics have been manipulated over time. Among other things, the article claims, these changes make Social Security checks 70% lower than they would otherwise be. [more inside]
How far away from work do you live? How much of your pay gets used up to get you to and from work, get you around town, and pay for where you live? As gas and food prices continue to rise, "affordability" has become a more critical notion for everyday Americans. The Center for Neighborhood Technology developed their Housing + Transportation Affordability Index, which aims to help better inform renters and owners about the relationship of transportation options to where one lives.
The new face of hunger -- “World agriculture has entered a new, unsustainable and politically risky period” says the International Food Policy Research Institute. Food riots have erupted in countries all along the equator because of soaring food commodity prices. So, where does the world get more food? If the extra supplies are to come mainly from large farmers in America and Europe, then they may be trapped in a farm subsidy Catch-22. Increase production per acre? We just learned about the myth of GM crops (previously of MeFi). All of this is why some are just sitting out Earth Day.
BubbleFilter: Real Estate Roller Coaster. [via] US Home prices adjusted for inflation plotted as a first-person ride on a roller coaster. Keep your eye on the bottom right-hand corner for the corresponding year. Don't worry about the dramatic ending. I mean really, how bad could bad get?
You will be thoroughly beaten. Zimbabwe, in economic decline for years, may be accelerating towards collapse. Its inflation rate recently hit 1281%, the highest in the world, and a strike by public doctors that began six weeks ago has now spread to nurses, electrical workers and (today) teachers. Those that aren't allowed to strike, like police, are quitting. Last month, Zimbabwe's top judge warned that underfunding had (possibly intentionally) left its judiciary largely unable to function, the nation's electricity provider recently announced that it's broke, its sewage plants started breaking down and polluting urban water supplies, and international observers warned (based on satellite photos, since the government won't allow them in) that famine is looming. In the past, President Robert Mugabe's response to the growing destitution has been to forcibly evict poor urban slum residents into the countryside and bulldoze their homes, to prevent them from organizing politically and to make it difficult for rights organizations to monitor them. Now, he's canceling the 2008 presidential elections (for now, saying that they'll be held in 2010, in conjunction with parliamentary elections, to save money) and ordering security forces to jail and torture political activists. The situation may be approaching a breaking point.
The RIAA Says CD's Should Have Cost $33.86 in 1996 however, this news article says and shows how their math (and logic) is more than a little skewed.
Tonight, G.W. Bush is expected to announce a major energy proposal, including cutbacks in gas consumption and development of alternative fuels. High on the list is the development and subsidisation of ethanol, primarily as derived from corn. The utility of corn-based ethanol in meeting energy needs is debatable: its probably weakly energy positive, but not very good in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. More immediately, the US drive towards corn based ethanol has had major effects on the price of corn, and has caused the otherwise free market leaning Mexican President Felipe Calderon to introduce price controls on tortillas. Earth Policy Institute's Lester Brown: "The competition for grain between the world’s 800 million motorists who want to maintain their mobility and its 2 billion poorest people who are simply trying to survive is emerging as an epic issue.". (This post based on a column by Barrie McKenna, unfortunately subscriber only.)
How much is a penny worth today? Oh, about $0.0105465. Of course, it costs more than that to produce them. Is the penny worth keeping? The old copper penny had bactericidal qualities. You could drop a copper penny in a glass of wine to discern its nature. They were the subject of various high-school chemistry experiments. According to some, they were excellent conductors of luck. And the new zinc pennies? Their melting point is lower, and they don't have the same ring to them. Some people like them, others like to eat them. What are they good for? Not much. The time has come to abolish the penny.
Dollar's Decline Is Reverberating All this talk about blue state, red state. How's the state of the one thing we all think about equally in common coming along? Isn't it time for a serious, non-partisan, "morally" neutral dialogue on the state of the US economy?
Harvard Faculty Votes to Put the Excellence Back in the A (NY Times) Grade inflation is over at Harvard after almost 90 percent of '01 grads received some form of honors. What's worse, up until now students who completed a thesis were guaranteed honors by their department.