Monday, January 24, 2011

The FED Scares Me, And I'm Not Afraid to Admit It.

So, I'm reading this speech by Charles I. Plosser, the President and CEO of the Philadelphia FED, and I'm thinking that this guy sees it a little like I do. He says:
"Our experiences clearly showed that efforts to manage or stabilize the real economy in the short term were beyond the scope of monetary policy, and if policymakers made aggressive attempts to do so, it would undermine the one contribution monetary policy could and should make to economic stability — price stability."
I'm pretty sure that we're going to see some wicked inflation. I'm not sure Mr. Plossner agrees, but it would seem that he does think that price instability is a possible outcome of the FED's current policies. And I guess it's possible for prices to decrease.

No offense to Mr. Plossner, but it's a pretty dry speech. Things are going along ok, I'm just nodding off from the boredom, when he says "BOO!" really loud. He didn't really say BOO; but what he did say was:
"That is why I have advocated that the Fed and Treasury reach an agreement whereby the Treasury exchanges Treasury securities with the non-Treasury assets on the Fed’s balance sheet."

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Is it Ironic or Appropriate to House the Department of Homeland Security in a Hospital for the Insane?

From Lew Rockwell's site: DHS to be housed in a federally operated hospital for the insane.
a cause of concern for preservationists who feel that Homeland Security’s particular needs will destroy the landmark
Now,  come on, the irony here is pretty rich, no?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Shot in the Head: Giffords, Hurndall and Palestinian Children

This is grim.

...doctors at a hospital near Gaza were “almost overwhelmed by the number of Palestinian children needing treatment for bullet wounds to their heads.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The “Exceptionally “Redacted 9/11 Commission Interview

The blog of Sibel Edmond, the founder and president of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC), hosts this interesting piece about her testimony before the 911 commission.

The entire report, by that I mean the entire report, is blacked out (actually, whited-out;-).

Al-Sadr calls on Iraqis 'to resist'

From Aljazeera
officials in both countries have admitted that security forces are not yet ready to protect Iraq's borders from possible invasion.
Two points about that quote:
1) Like they were so ready for the invasion by the U.S.
2) What invasion do they fear? Who's going to invade, Iran, Israel? I mean, really, it seems like a weak excuse to keep the U.S. armed forces in Iraq for as long as possible.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

How Scary Is This?

Ok. This looks bad. Even if you don't know what it is, it looks bad. Or maybe really good. But it's not good. It's bad. Really, really bad. So what is it?

This is a graphical representation (from the website of the St. Louis Fed) of the excess reserves at the Fed.

We, like most of the world, have a fractional reserve banking system. This means that banks (with a 10% reserve requirement as example) can loan out $90 of every $100 in deposits. The rest ($10) they keep at the branch, or "on reserve" with the FED.

So, the chart above that indicates ~$1 trillion in excess reserves could conceivably translate into $10 trillion dollars or more when released into the market through bank loans.

As maligned as Wikipedia is, they do have a decent entry on the topic of fractional reserve banking.

As hard as it may be to believe, people argue over the definition of inflation. But most people agree that a general rise in prices would qualify as inflation.   

But what causes the general rise in prices? I agree with the school of thought that says that an increase in the supply of money (and people argue about the definition of that as well) will result in an increase in prices. Or it can conversely be stated that an increase in the money supply results in the loss of value of each individual unit of money.

That's a clumsy way of saying it. But it'd be like if you had a really valuable baseball card. It gets some of its value from the scarcity of cards just like it. But what would happen to its value if someone found a whole bunch of that same baseball card that had been stored somewhere? Or maybe a better example would be the price of oranges. If there is a bumper crop of oranges, the price of each individual orange would  decrease when the supply increased.
Here is a discussion on the definition of inflation at the Mises Institute's site.

Well, you've heard of the FED and their program(s) of quantitative easing. The FED has been buying "troubled" assets from banks. And they've been buying treasury debt.

They've been making deals with the banks, trading those smelly MBSs and CDOs for reserves at the FED.

A serious explanation of Quantitative Easing can be found here.

Yeah, I don't know if you watched that 60 minutes episode puff-piece. It starts out: "Aside from the President, he's the most powerful man working to save the economy." A funnier video on the actions of the FED can be found at Gary North's site.

But seriously, how is the FED going to keep those reserves out of the market and increasing prices? They have some options, but I just don't see how they're going to work. For a lecture on that, check out Robert P Murphy's appearance.

Right now the FED is paying the banks interest on their reserves. But according to Dr. Murphy, this is unsustainable. So that money will, sooner or later, hit the market.

It means that inflation is coming. I didn't say hyper-inflation, though that is possible. Dr. Jorg Guido Hülsmann (professor of economics at the University of Angers in France) tells Lew Rockwell to expect double-digit inflation here.

Some people buy gold and silver as a hedge against inflation. Others try to guess where the inflation is going to hit first - and invest there. Some recommend commodities. 

I personally think that health care is going to inflate next, as if it hadn't inflated enough already. I probably read this somewhere, so can't take credit for it nor link to the proper source, but it seems to me correct to see a relationship between the recently passed health care bill and banking. Maybe some kind of health care credit card or something. I haven't figured out how this would affect the health insurance industry yet, and we know that they are powerful as well (as evidenced by the passage of said health care bill).
There's no reason to freak out about this. It's like a hurricane coming. Maybe I'm wrong (but I'm not). Maybe the hurricane won't hit your house. You can't leave, 'cause it's a big hurricane and there's nowhere safe, that I know of, for you to go. So maybe just cover your financial doors and windows, fill the figurative bath tub with water, and - if it comes - hide in the basement until it's over.


For the religiously irreverent among us.

I literally laughed out loud.


Beating Dead Horses , Part I : I'm confused again

i) I know from Lev 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

If Wikileaks has taught us anything, it's gotta be: The U.S. Government does not tell us everything.

Ok. First, thousands of birds found dead.Now they find tons of dead fish.
I'm not saying that the government is responsible. I'm saying that they wouldn't tell us if they were.