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  #11  
Old 12-17-2008, 04:00 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveInDenver View Post
I would love to opt out of the rat race, where do I register a complaint and send my application for the good life?
Just about anyplace in Western Europe

Or do you not envy their 6 weeks of vacation, when the continent about shuts down in August, their full high quality health care (yes, there are exceptions, but they are exceptions), their fully covered retirement and college education?

Did you notice during the Southeast Asia tsunami all the Swedes hanging out in paradise? How can they possibly afford to travel during Christmas at the peak of the winter travel season with their families, what with their 50% income tax rate, their costly best in world education and other public institutions?

How is it that they have one of the highest rates of second home and boat ownership in the world? How is it that these social democracies are at the top of the list for quality of life year after year after year globally in virtually every major category?

It's not free markets. It is a decision by a society to preserve a cultural high quality way of life via public institutions from whom they demand excellence instead of constantly tearing them down. It is also a relatively homogenous society acting in accord of its own cultural interests. When people in a society agree culturally, they tend to act in much greater accord than in societies where people have profound cultural differences like the U.S. This is why it is so easy to divide and conquer the U.S. middle class, and why it is so difficult in Europe (especially since their entire societies are essentially middle class). Why do you think we have cultural wedge issues in every election? Very effective.

It may be that the catastrophic costs of higher education, health care, elder care, and long term retirement, all left to the opportunities, risks, and luck of the individual, leaves the average individual stressed beyond their means in every possible meaningful quality of life category, and that this is simply the output of the free market: largely unhappy humans, even when they are relatively well off.

Two generations ago we had a 40/40 expectation. Work forty hours a week for forty years and live in retirement at the same standard of living when you retired. My wife's grandfather, who recently passed, had a simple goal: to be retired for as many years as he worked.

He was a self taught Naval architect who never had a big salary and worked at the Norfolk shipyard most of his life. Shortly before he passed, he realized his dream of being retired as long as his working career. He was able to care for his wife, provide financial assistance to his children and even grand children financially, and live independently with his wife until his late 80's. He still cares for his wife as her care is fully paid for, and she is doing well at 93.

Amazing what a pension, social security, and covered health care in combination with modest long term market investments can provide. These things have become the province of the wealthy, not the working man who never even went to college.

How many of you believe you will be retired at the same standard of living for as many years as you worked? We could not even afford $4 gas on a macro-economic level without rushing towards another great depression, but we are all going to retire with economic security? It brings to mind a saying:

"Welcome to Walmart".
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  #12  
Old 12-17-2008, 04:22 PM
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10% reserve means 90% of real money - REAL money - is out there getting real returns as working capital. It means that no, the bank cannot cash everyone's check at once for 100% of the funds they deposited. But they can cash 10% of funds needed, and borrow the remainder at the cost of intrabank lending.
The 90% is not real money beyond the first bank. The banks as a whole are lending out 10 times what the original claimed as reserve. Take an initial investment of $10, which might have come from deposits, investment or even FOMC funds, doesn't matter. The bank has to reserve $1 and can loan out $9. If that $9 is deposited into another bank, they can loan out $8, keep $1. It cascades through until the original $10 is $100 of inflated money floating around the system. If a bank was only loaning out the money once and truly keeping only 10% reserve, that would be different. But the pyramid part comes in the way the accounting credit is generated in the Fed system through inter-bank lending. The only way to keep it from inflating like this is if the money is held out by a non-bank. Like if a customer takes the original $90 loan and stuffs into a sock drawer, then the scheme does not generate all the fake money. But by about 10 or 20 lending cycles the bulk of the non-existent money is created.
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  #13  
Old 12-17-2008, 05:18 PM
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Europe's short work weeks are as much an attempt to solve structural unemployment problems as a cultural difference. If they worked 48 or 50 40-hour weeks like us, they'd have much higher unemployment. Europe the past couple of years has fundamental productivity issues. They have advantages in government spending over us in more unification of social programs (i.e., more central government spending than our multi-level system that increases waste). But the eventually end game is that entitlements and population growth stagnation will create major issues for them, too.

Anyway, I looked up some statistics.

Total home ownership amongst population
#1 Ireland: 83%
#2 Italy: 78%
#3 Australia: 69%
#4 United Kingdom: 69%
#5 Canada: 67%
#6 Finland: 67%
#7 United States: 65%
#8 Belgium: 65%
#9 Japan: 60%
#10 Sweden: 60%
#11 France: 54%
#12 Denmark: 53%
#13 Netherlands: 49%
#14 Germany: 43%

Government consumption in current US$ (per capita)
#1 Luxembourg: 13,231.395 $ per capita
#2 Iceland: 13,179.572 $ per capita
#3 Norway: 13,010.14 $ per capita
#4 Denmark: 12,374.129 $ per capita
#5 Sweden: 10,790.501 $ per capita
#6 Netherlands: 9,186.077 $ per capita
#7 Finland: 8,297.716 $ per capita
#8 France: 8,286.266 $ per capita
#9 Belgium: 8,161.056 $ per capita
#10 United Kingdom: 7,951.89 $ per capita
#11 Ireland: 7,100.648 $ per capita
#12 Austria: 6,596.583 $ per capita
#13 Japan: 6,443.958 $ per capita
#14 Germany: 6,291.013 $ per capita
#15 United States: 6,281.512 $ per capita
#16 Italy: 6,101.906 $ per capita
#17 Qatar: 6,005.587 $ per capita
#18 Australia: 5,965.827 $ per capita
#19 Canada: 5,953.575 $ per capita
#20 Switzerland: 5,760.444 $ per capita
#21 Israel: 4,972.145 $ per capita
#22 Kuwait: 4,912.54 $ per capita
#23 Spain: 4,611.471 $ per capita
#24 New Zealand: 4,322.022 $ per capita
#25 Portugal: 3,658.48 $ per capita
#26 Slovenia: 3,360.305 $ per capita
#27 Greece: 3,317.439 $ per capita

Secondary spending per student
#1 Switzerland: $9,348.00 per student
#2 Austria: $8,163.00 per student
#3 United States: $7,764.00 per student
#4 Norway: $7,343.00 per student
#5 Denmark: $7,200.00 per student
#6 France: $6,605.00 per student
#7 Italy: $6,458.00 per student
#8 Germany: $6,209.00 per student
#9 Japan: $5,890.00 per student
#10 Australia: $5,830.00 per student
#11 Sweden: $5,648.00 per student
#12 Netherlands: $5,304.00 per student
#13 United Kingdom: $5,230.00 per student
#14 Israel: $5,115.00 per student
#15 Portugal: $4,636.00 per student
#16 Spain: $4,274.00 per student
#17 Ireland: $3,934.00 per student
#18 Greece: $3,287.00 per student
#19 Czech Republic: $3,182.00 per student
#20 Hungary: $2,140.00 per student
#21 Thailand: $1,177.00 per student

Number of days not worked (i.e. days OFF) for every 1000 salaried employees (trying to correlate this, I don't understand it)
#1 Iceland: 367 days
#2 Spain: 316 days
#3 Norway: 239 days
#4 United States: 163 days
#5 Finland: 126 days
#6 Canada: 125 days
#7 France: 117 days
#8 Ireland: 72 days
#9 Australia: 61 days
#10 Italy: 59 days
#11 Denmark: 51 days
#12 Hungary: 47 days
#13 Turkey: 36 days
#14 United Kingdom: 21 days
#15 Mexico: 16 days
#16 Portugal: 11 days
#17 New Zealand: 8 days
#18 Poland: 7 days
#19 Netherlands: 1 days
#20 Switzerland: 1 days

Hours worked to buy a car
#1 Ireland: 1,823 hours
#2 Finland: 1,681 hours
#3 Austria: 1,672 hours
#4 France: 1,600 hours
#5 Canada: 1,552 hours
#6 Norway: 1,517 hours
#7 Belgium: 1,500 hours
#8 United States: 1,459 hours
#9 Australia: 1,244 hours
#10 Denmark: 1,206 hours
#11 Japan: 1,182 hours
#12 New Zealand: 1,175 hours
#13 Italy: 989 hours
#14 United Kingdom: 956 hours
#15 Germany: 861 hours
#16 Switzerland: 614 hours

Death from cancer
#1 Netherlands: 433 deaths per 100,000
#2 Italy: 418 deaths per 100,000
#3 Hungary: 411 deaths per 100,000
#4 Luxembourg: 409.7 deaths per 100,000
#5 Slovakia: 405.3 deaths per 100,000
#6 Ireland: 357.6 deaths per 100,000
#7 Czech Republic: 335.4 deaths per 100,000
#8 New Zealand: 327.3 deaths per 100,000
#9 United States: 321.9 deaths per 100,000
#10 Australia: 298.9 deaths per 100,000
#11 Norway: 289.4 deaths per 100,000
#12 France: 286.1 deaths per 100,000
#13 Austria: 280 deaths per 100,000
#14 Sweden: 268.2 deaths per 100,000
#15 Finland: 255.4 deaths per 100,000
#16 United Kingdom: 253.5 deaths per 100,000

Total health spending per person (public and private)
#1 United States: 4,271
#2 Switzerland: 3,857
#3 Norway: 3,182
#4 Denmark: 2,785
#5 Luxembourg: 2,731
#6 Iceland: 2,701
#7 Germany: 2,697
#8 France: 2,288
#9 Japan: 2,243
#10 Netherlands: 2,173
#11 Sweden: 2,145
#12 Belgium: 2,137
#13 Austria: 2,121
#14 Canada: 1,939
#15 Australia: 1,714
#16 Finland: 1,704
#17 Italy: 1,676
#18 United Kingdom: 1,675
#19 Israel: 1,607
#20 Ireland: 1,569
#21 United Arab Emirates: 1,428
#22 New Zealand: 1,163
#23 Spain: 1,043
#24 Greece: 965
#25 Portugal: 859
#26 Slovenia: 746

Total health expenditure as percentage of GDP
#1 United States: 14.6%
#2 Cambodia: 12%
#3 Lebanon: 11.5%
#4 Switzerland: 11.2%
#5 Sao Tome and Principe: 11.1%
#6 Monaco: 11%
#7 Germany: 10.9%
#8 Marshall Islands: 10.6%
#9 Togo: 10.5%
#10 Uruguay: 10%
#11 Iceland: 9.9%
#12 Malawi: 9.8%
#13 Niue: 9.7%
#14 France: 9.7%
#15 Malta: 9.6%
#16 Canada: 9.6%
#17 Norway: 9.6%
#18 Greece: 9.5%
#19 Australia: 9.5%
#20 Portugal: 9.3%
#21 Costa Rica: 9.3%
#22 Jordan: 9.3%
#23 Sweden: 9.2%
#24 Bosnia and Herzegovina: 9.2%
#25 Palau: 9.1%
#26 Belgium: 9.1%
#27 Israel: 9.1%
#28 Argentina: 8.9%
#29 Panama: 8.9%
#30 Denmark: 8.8%
#31 Netherlands: 8.8%
#32 South Africa: 8.7%
#33 Suriname: 8.6%
#34 Italy: 8.5%
#35 New Zealand: 8.5%
#36 Paraguay: 8.4%
#37 Slovenia: 8.3%
#38 Colombia: 8.1%
#39 Serbia and Montenegro: 8.1%
#40 Kiribati: 8%
#41 El Salvador: 8%
#42 Afghanistan: 8%
#43 Brazil: 7.9%
#44 Japan: 7.9%

GDP per capita in 2004
#1 Luxembourg: $65,994.27 per capita
#2 Ireland: $40,087.90 per capita
#3 United States: $39,319.40 per capita
#4 Norway: $38,196.17 per capita
#5 Switzerland: $33,062.09 per capita
#6 Iceland: $32,338.40 per capita
#7 Austria: $31,900.55 per capita
#8 Denmark: $31,768.96 per capita
#9 Netherlands: $31,749.74 per capita
#10 Belgium: $31,131.32 per capita
#11 Hong Kong: $30,537.76 per capita
#12 United Kingdom: $30,314.72 per capita
#13 Canada: $30,272.18 per capita
#14 Australia: $30,161.37 per capita
#15 Finland: $29,770.06 per capita
#16 Japan: $29,619.96 per capita
#17 Sweden: $29,443.24 per capita
#18 France: $28,758.11 per capita
#19 Germany: $28,215.45 per capita
#20 Italy: $27,905.13 per capita
#21 Singapore: $26,711.70 per capita
#22 Israel: $26,079.81 per capita
#23 Spain: $25,935.13 per capita

GDP per capita in 1900
#1 New Zealand: $4,320.00
#2 Australia: $4,299.00
#3 United States: $4,096.00
#4 Belgium: $3,652.00
#5 Netherlands: $3,533.00
#6 Switzerland: $3,531.00
#7 Germany: $3,134.00
#8 Denmark: $2,902.00
#9 Austria: $2,901.00
#10 France: $2,849.00
#11 Canada: $2,758.00
#12 Argentina: $2,756.00
#13 Sweden: $2,561.00
#14 Ireland: $2,495.00
#15 Spain: $2,040.00
#16 Chile: $1,949.00
#17 Norway: $1,762.00
#18 Italy: $1,746.00
#19 Hungary: $1,682.00
#20 Finland: $1,620.00
#21 Portugal: $1,408.00

Long term unemployment (12 months or longer)
#1 Slovakia: 10.2%
#2 Italy: 6.5%
#3 Greece: 6.4%
#4 Poland: 6.1%
#5 Spain: 6%
#6 Ireland: 5.6%
#7 Czech Republic: 4.4%
#8 Belgium: 4%
#9 Germany: 3.9%
#10 France: 3.8%
#11 Hungary: 3.1%
#12 Finland: 2.4%
#13 Australia: 1.8%
#14 Portugal: 1.7%
#15 United Kingdom: 1.5%
#16 Sweden: 1.4%
#17 Austria: 1.3%
#18 Japan: 1.2%
#19 New Zealand: 1.2%
#20 Denmark: 0.9%
#21 Netherlands: 0.9%
#22 Canada: 0.8%
#23 Luxembourg: 0.6%
#24 Switzerland: 0.6%
#25 Iceland: 0.2%
#26 Norway: 0.2%
#27 United States: 0.2%
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  #14  
Old 12-17-2008, 05:32 PM
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The 90% is not real money beyond the first bank. The banks as a whole are lending out 10 times what the original claimed as reserve. Take an initial investment of $10, which might have come from deposits, investment or even FOMC funds, doesn't matter. The bank has to reserve $1 and can loan out $9. If that $9 is deposited into another bank, they can loan out $8, keep $1. It cascades through until the original $10 is $100 of inflated money floating around the system. If a bank was only loaning out the money once and truly keeping only 10% reserve, that would be different. But the pyramid part comes in the way the accounting credit is generated in the Fed system through inter-bank lending. The only way to keep it from inflating like this is if the money is held out by a non-bank. Like if a customer takes the original $90 loan and stuffs into a sock drawer, then the scheme does not generate all the fake money. But by about 10 or 20 lending cycles the bulk of the non-existent money is created.
Good in theory, but the analogy breaks down at the point where the bank makes no more return on investment than it costs them. They won't do that. They loan to businesses that pay much higher interest.

Regards the long list of statistics... what I get from that is that our healthcare system is drastically inefficient. ???
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Old 12-17-2008, 06:18 PM
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Good in theory, but the analogy breaks down at the point where the bank makes no more return on investment than it costs them. They won't do that.
There is a whole sub-specialty of liquidity management and finance that's called maturity transformation that designs algorithms to mix the various holding instruments for the interbank loans. The original money come from the Fed at the discount rate, but they can transfer funds at the Federal funds rate, commercial paper rate, LIBOR, Treasury, funds swap rate, overnight repo and a number of other ways to avoid lending the money out of the bank at the regular prime rate. I don't know all the ins and outs, but the banks model these systems to hold money in ways that generates marginally small amounts of interest in huge volumes. The trick comes in how to correctly weight the risk/reward of the different instruments to make the most money. So all this funny money that is loaned is where the bulk of the non-reserve capital ends up. You are probably right that in reality it's not 90% growth on the original investment, but it's a monster amount of created money none-the-less. Then having these banks exposed to all these credit derivatives at several times their capital is serious business. JP Morgan was somewhere around 800% on derivatives against asset exposure, Chase about 500%. These companies combined had something like $20 trillion in derivatives and $500 billion in assets (this is why they had to consolidate, one or both would have gone under). Citibank was somewhere around 200% derivative exposure to assets, Bank of America about 150%. They are losing tremendous amounts of money as interest rates dive, which is why TARP money is being horded, to cover these losses. They are getting caught in this scheme just like Madoff did.
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Regards the long list of statistics... what I get from that is that our healthcare system is drastically inefficient. ???
That was what crossed my mind. But I dunno how you measure inefficiency. Money spent is money spent. You would have to figure out where the money goes, maybe profit margins of health related companies? So how do you then factor in R&D, since both Europe and the U.S.A. have drug companies doing research with no guarantee of FDA or market acceptance. You'd have to weigh in liability here, lots of lawsuits flying around. The only experience I have with all this is my bro-in-law, who is a doctor now. He did a one year exchange program in Germany working for the CDC equivalent there. Plus my sister had her baby in Berlin, so they saw the inside of the medical system first hand. Their conclusion is that the U.S.A. is miles ahead in actual patient care in terms of the amount of resources doctors and nurses have at their immediate disposal. But since the bulk of people don't need all that stuff, it's probably an expensive waste to have sitting around. But in my sister's case her epidural nicked her spinal cord, which caused a slow spinal fluid leak. That caused her very serious headaches for two weeks after the birth. The hospital didn't have the right equipment to deal with it apparently, but I dunno much beyond that. They basically gave her Tylenol and told her to deal with it. Her description of it was the worst migraines she'd ever had. Shrug.
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Last edited by DaveInDenver; 12-17-2008 at 06:39 PM.
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Old 12-18-2008, 07:25 AM
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and that this is simply the output of the free market: largely unhappy humans, even when they are relatively well off.
You keep pointing to the free market as the problem. List three markets that are truly free, where the market does what it does naturally. One without intervention, regulation, support, subsidy by government or the Fed. There are so many controls on the economy, it's ridiculous. The EPA, DOT, FDA, UL, UAW, SEC, FCC, FSA, HHS, HUD, TSA, CPSC, DORA, DEA, PPT, CRMPG it goes on and on.

The reason it seems to me behind us all feeling so poor is the constant grind of inflation and the structural cost associated with money generated through interest-bearing debt. The economy as a whole gets weighed down by it and it forces the redistribution of wealth from debtor productive industries to creditor speculative ones. IOW, as the private fiat money system runs its course, you see exactly what's happened the past few decades. It's financially more advantageous to be the shareholder or bank than be the factory or tradesman. The major money is made speculating about the value and collecting interest of advanced credit for production rather than being an actual producer of it.
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Old 12-18-2008, 08:28 AM
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There is a whole sub-specialty of liquidity management and finance that's called maturity transformation that designs algorithms to mix the various holding instruments for the interbank loans.
I agree that the whole derivatives thing was funny money, but that was a recent development. It hid true risk because it was so abstracted from the original obligations. It does not stand to reason that this is normal practice nor in any way caused by or related to the existence of the Fed. Tell ya what, I will print out your post and run it through a bank manager friend's thinking and tell ya what he says, howz dat?
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That was what crossed my mind. But I dunno how you measure inefficiency. Money spent is money spent. You would have to figure out where the money goes, maybe profit margins of health related companies? So how do you then factor in R&D, since both Europe and the U.S.A. have drug companies doing research with no guarantee of FDA or market acceptance. You'd have to weigh in liability here, lots of lawsuits flying around. The only experience I have with all this is my bro-in-law, who is a doctor now. He did a one year exchange program in Germany working for the CDC equivalent there. Plus my sister had her baby in Berlin, so they saw the inside of the medical system first hand. Their conclusion is that the U.S.A. is miles ahead in actual patient care in terms of the amount of resources doctors and nurses have at their immediate disposal. But since the bulk of people don't need all that stuff, it's probably an expensive waste to have sitting around. But in my sister's case her epidural nicked her spinal cord, which caused a slow spinal fluid leak. That caused her very serious headaches for two weeks after the birth. The hospital didn't have the right equipment to deal with it apparently, but I dunno much beyond that. They basically gave her Tylenol and told her to deal with it. Her description of it was the worst migraines she'd ever had. Shrug.
Fair comments I'd say. Shows to go you, issues are never as simple and straightforward as we would like them to be (and therefore harder to solve). I would still have to say that although the US is cutting edge on many measures, the net results on many measures just isn't that much better on a cost-justified basis.

Which means it could be improved... duh. I am a master of the obvious. But liability lawsuits certainly seem to be the low hanging fruit. Let's hope they fix it without destroying the ability to sue for real live negligence or malpractice. Like the gal I heard about last night who lost her arm because someone injected Phenergan (migraine related medicine) too quickly. It corroded her veins and her arm went necrotic. Ewww. There's a lawsuit worth having.
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Old 12-18-2008, 08:41 AM
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You keep pointing to the free market as the problem. List three markets that are truly free, where the market does what it does naturally. One without intervention, regulation, support, subsidy by government or the Fed. There are so many controls on the economy, it's ridiculous. The EPA, DOT, FDA, UL, UAW, SEC, FCC, FSA, HHS, HUD, TSA, CPSC, DORA, DEA, PPT, CRMPG it goes on and on.
Exactly my point in the OP. However, I do not see a completely free market as a good thing. YMMV.
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The reason it seems to me behind us all feeling so poor is the constant grind of inflation and the structural cost associated with money generated through interest-bearing debt. The economy as a whole gets weighed down by it and it forces the redistribution of wealth from debtor productive industries to creditor speculative ones.
I dunno, access to capital allows productive industries to multiply the value of the investment over the cost of access to it. That is capitalism at work, not a bad thing but a very good thing IMHO. Of course, it can go very badly, and because it is an interrrelated system it can go very badly for reasons outside that particular industry. That is the 'free' part of the (relatively) free market. It is not primarily due to government intervention (but of course government intervention can affect it for good or ill - usually, it seems, for ill, though I would not say necessarily so).
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IOW, as the private fiat money system runs its course, you see exactly what's happened the past few decades. It's financially more advantageous to be the shareholder or bank than be the factory or tradesman.
Exactly. Because you are multiplying capital. Your investment (which is nothing more than a symbolic aggregate of labor + innovation - AKA 'money', at least that is my definition of the synthetic idea of 'money') made into a corporate investment funds an enterprise that adds additional labor and innovation, producing multiples of the original investment. Kind of the upside/inverse to your banks-lending-to-banks analogy above.
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The major money is made speculating about the value and collecting interest of advanced credit for production rather than being an actual producer of it.
Or to put it otherwise: Major money is made betting on the future value of labor + innovation that you are capitalizing. Because this activity has more risk (which my 401(k) can demonstrate ), it has a higher potential return than showing up at work and cashing the ol' paycheck. So what you do with that paycheck can make you just a consumer, or make you a participant (through capitalization) in the engine of production.
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Old 12-18-2008, 08:54 AM
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I agree that the whole derivatives thing was funny money, but that was a recent development. It hid true risk because it was so abstracted from the original obligations. It does not stand to reason that this is normal practice nor in any way caused by or related to the existence of the Fed. Tell ya what, I will print out your post and run it through a bank manager friend's thinking and tell ya what he says, howz dat?
I've been for the past couple of years been more and more a convert to the Austrian school (i.e. Carl Menger and Ludwig von Mises) and I get such tepid feedback about their theories from people in the business. Kirsten's dad and brother both work in the field (he bro works for Schwab as an institutional investor and her dad worked in finance). They are devout Keynesians to say the least. Even they can't explain some of this stuff to me.
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Fair comments I'd say. Shows to go you, issues are never as simple and straightforward as we would like them to be (and therefore harder to solve).
No argument that it's not 1st grade simple to understand. Taken me a year to get half way through Theory of Money and Credit. But there are built-in complexities that I'm really convinced are designed to obfuscate and hide the real mechanism. I'm sure it's as much since 99% of people don't care and their eyes glaze over when talking about economics. But when you start pointing out the inconsistencies, people think it's all about conspiracy theories or whatever. Well, maybe there is some behind the curtain men who have designed the game so that they can't lose. When you start overlying social, political and economic milestones, it's funny how problems line up with wars, how social injustice line up with speculative currency attacks, how the IMF and World Bank squeeze unfavorable governments. It's certainly hard to wade through the crackpots who believe there are House of Rothchild moon bases and people who see genuine correlations in history. There are powerful people running the game from behind the scenes, it should be obvious to any Obama supporter. The guy has changed his tune on just about everything now that he's getting the full picture and it's uncanny how much he is starting to sound a lot like a Bush, Clinton, Carter.
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Old 12-18-2008, 09:23 AM
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Yeah, no doubt. I figure the Huffington Post folks are gonna go ballistic (HEY! HE isn't what we voted for!), though to be honest I haven't checked recently. I do know a lot of conservatives are surprised... somewhat relieved... and holding their criticism. But the guy still thought serializing bullets and cases was in the realm of "common sense gun control that everyone can agree on", so I'm holding my opinion for now. But I digress.

I agree that shell-game complexity comes into play. It is amazing that smart people bought into financial instruments whose risk could not even be quantified. I did read something that an unanticipated consequence of government backing is causing the whole gin mill to start up again, this time leveraging that backing.

But I still sense something of tin foil in some of your views of the Fed et.al. I've been wrong before, but... I dunno...
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Check this book out:
http://www.amazon.com/Good-Capitalis...=pd_ys_shvl_64

Appears to be well right of center, but probably worth a read. I was challenged by this critical review though:
http://www.amazon.com/review/R3GI5DZ...R3GI5DZ3TJ3IUI

Geez. The shortcomings of second-sourcing. Now I have to go friggen read "The Wealth of Nations". Not ever heard these aspects of Adam Smith emphasized. Usually folks rely on him for his apparent laissez-faire statements. It would appear he would fall in line with the OP.
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