"The International Monetary Fund is forecasting a 2,349% inflation rate for Venezuela this year. The Venezuelan people are starving and leaving the country in droves—the nation is a modern-day cautionary tale of what happens when fiat money dies." ~Michael Pento

 
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News and opinion from all over the political universe.  Much of it to be taken with several grains of salt.



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August 15th,2018
    "Vizier torn to shreds by angry mob.  Remains fed to dogs."

  Don't be upset. The above is an Iranian news item from 1294 AD. The Mongol ruler, Kai Khatu,on advice from his vizier (high official) and introduced paper money into the realm. The idea came from Kai's brother, China's Kublai Khan.

  Well! The paper system disrupted things to such an extent a riot broke out, the vizier was seized by the mob, ripped to shreds and thrown to a pack of dogs.

  From then on silver money prevailed again in Iran until 1931. That's when Reza Shah introduced a modern bank and gradually withdrew silver from circulation. He was forced to abdicate ten years later.

  Now the whole world is awash in paper money, although no one has yet suggested punishing the bankers or treasury officials for pushing the idea that paper promises are as good as sound money. 

 

   Christine Hallquist became the first transgender person to win a nomination to a governorship. The Vermont Democratic primary victory Tuesday pits Ms. Hallquist against the Republican nominee in November.

     S/he campaigned on a platform of a $15.00 hourly minimum wage, Medicare for all, and free higher education.
 
     These are bribes straight out of the Socialist playbook and are popular not only in Vermont but are promoted by Democrat Progressives across the country.
  TRANSPERSON


 
  



These data are jarring.
  We advise skipping them and put your trust in the duly elected to do something about it. (Grim humor.)

#1 U.S. consumer credit just hit another all-time record high.  In the second quarter of 2008, total consumer credit reached a grand total of $2.62 trillion , and now ten years later that number has soared to $3.87 trillion. That is an increase of 48 percent in just one decade.

#2 Student loan debt has surpassed 1.5 trillion dollars for the first time ever.  Over the last 8 years, the total amount of student loan debt has shot uup 79 percent in the United States.

#3 According to the Federal Reserve, the credit card default rate in the U.S. has risen for 7 quarters in a row.

#4 One recent survey found that 42 percent of American consumers paid their credit card bill late “at least once in the last year”, and 24 percent of Americans consumers paid their credit card bills late “more than once in the last year”.

#5 Real wage growth in the United States just declined by the most that we have seen in 6 years.

#6 According to one recent study, the “rate of people 65 and older filing for bankruptcy is three times what it was in 1991”.

#7 We are in the midst of the greatest “retail apocalypse” in American history.  At this point 57 major retailers have announced store closings so far in 2018.

#8 The size of the official U.S. budget deficit is up 21 percent up under President Trump.

#9 It is being projected that interest on the national debt will suirpass half a trillion dollars surpass for the first time ever this year.

#10 Goldman Sachs is projecting that the yearly U.S. budget deficit will surpass 2 trillion dollars by 2028.  Michael Snyder

Assuming that Mr. Snyder's worries are worth considering, what's a bloke (or bloke-ess) supposed to do about it?  With economic history as a guide we'd guess that an economic stumble awaits us all and it makes sense to batten the hatches in advance of it.  Avoiding unnecessary debt strikes us as a reasonable measure.  Living within one's means is another.



“The poor old Associated Press is again in a peck of trouble. It gets involved in so many fakes that it keeps one busy to follow them.”
1895-Daily News of Milwaukee

    Journalists used to fight fake news; today they pretend it doesn’t exist, writes editor Frank Miele in his popular 2¢ Worth column in the Kalispell (MT) Interlake News. FAKE NEWS

  
Says editor Miele, "Our reporters take seriously their responsibility for getting both sides of the story, and for keeping their own opinions out. We aren’t perfect, and when we fall short, we admit it."

 
. "Keeping their opinions out?" Management at National Public Radio would be scorned for making this suggestion to their reporters.

  Budget Deficits, 2018 Style
     "Perhaps you've heard the federal budget is rising again, and that's true.  But what you probablyi haven't heard is that the main reason is spending, not falling revenues from tax cuts."  ~Wall Street Journal, 8-11-2018

    
Reason to worry?  Well, the present 10-month fiscal deficit is $682 billion. As the Journal editorial points out, spending has increased $143 billion "for all the usual reasons  -  escpecially Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security."
 
     Maybe this level of spendthriftery doesn't impress because there's such a close similarity between the words. "billion" and "million."  But the fact that $682 billion is really 682-thousand MILLION might make it easier to ponder.  Most of us consider a mere million dollars to be a hefty amount of money.  Multiply that number by 682,000 to picture the immensity of the budget deficit that Washington has acquired in only the past ten months. 

     So what?

      So - since perpetual deficits lead to unpayable debt, which leads to uncomfortable economic adjustments.,we'd better vote for people who understand the problem and are willing to act to fix it.

 

Sad Tale of Elderly Bankrupt

   "For a rapidly growing share of older Americans, traditional ideas about life in retirement are being upended by a dismal reality: bankruptcy.

   "The signs of potential trouble — vanishing pensions, soaring medical expenses, inadequate savings — have been building for years. Now, new research sheds light on the scope of the problem: The rate of people 65 and older filing for bankruptcy is three times what it was in 1991, the study found, and the same group accounts for a far greater share of all filers."  NEW YORK TIMES

   Sensible use of debt can be a good thing.  It's when it is taken on with no rational plan or desire to pay it off the trouble comes. 

         It's troubling to see an increasing number of older Americans having to resort to bankruptcy.  It's worrisome to see consumer debt, government debt, and corporate debt soaring to the stratosphere.  As the ancient philospher Publilius Cyrus pointed out "All debt is paid.  Either by the borrower or the lender."  He meant the lender was stuck with the loss if the borrower would not or could not repay thje loan. 

     What can be done to halt the rush toward insolvency? Not much.  The matter takes care of itself.  Usually with disastrous consequences. 

     Avoiding unnecessary debt - that is, being a contrarian and resisting the temptation to take on debt - strikes us as a practical choice at the moment.

  “I couldn’t make it through a workout without music,” says Tim Cook, Apple CEO. “Music inspires, it motivates. It’s also the thing at night that helps quiet me. I think it’s better than any medicine.”

    
We don't detect much melody in musical fare these days.  Nor are lyrics memorable, if they can be heard over the bang of the drums and the screech of over-modulated guitar amplifiers. 

       But we are very patient.  As a teenager of the early 1940s we did our share to annoy the older generations with our adoration of big band swing and stupid songs like "Mairzy Doats and Dozy Doats,"  or "Hut-sut Ralsin on the Rillarah."  The grownups of that day had forgotten the crazy songs of their youth like "Who takes care of the caretaker's daughter when the caretaker is busy taking care?"
 
       Browse the folios of popular music of the '20s, 30s, and '40s and notice the clever lyric rhymes, the memorable tunes - the kind people tended to whistle on the street or to themselves when performing chores.  Try to find the melody in the hard rock stuff that circulates today.  Moreover, try to find lyrics that rhyme. 

       The noise that passes for new "music" today generally lacks melody or lyrics that reach the heart.  Maybe a new trend will catch on that slows the frenetic tempo, softens the volume, and makes way for Doris Days, Frank Sinatras or Bing Crosbys. 

        One can hope.


   



 

   "Here’s the thing," comments David Stockman "Herbert Hoover was the single most economically literate President we have ever had and had become a billionaire-equivalent on today’s wealth scale as a brilliant mining engineer, not simply a debt-bubble ridding real estate speculator.

   "Hoover well understood the requisites of fiscal rectitude, free markets and sound gold-backed money. Even his affinity for a mild-form of protectionism was rooted in economics and commerce, and he hesitated about Smoot-Hawley to the very end.

   "What we are saying is that once Washington started down the path of protectionism — even with an economic mastermind and free market statesman in the Oval Office, it ended in disaster.

     "Is it all so difficult, therefore, to imagine where this Trade War might lead with an absolute ignoramus and economic crackpot resident in the same powerful office?" TRADE IS ABOUT ECONOMICS.

     Former Congressman David Stockman calls President Trump an "economic crackpot."  It's unseemly for Ronald Reagan's OMB director to pile on like this, but from our choice spot in the peanut gallery we agree.  Trump's trade war may lead to higher prices of imported goods.  This, on top of the re-kindling of domestic price infation, portends a pocketbook squeeze on consumers.  (Inflation is officially running near 3 percent and the Federal Reserve has called a halt to interest rate hikes.) 

              Dull stuff - economics.  But economists like Stockman see paralells between the trade mistakes of the early 1930s and today.  Financially prudent people are paying attention.

     


 






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    Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) says, "To restore decency and balance in public dialogue, both left and right should embrace a laying down of rhetorical arms.  Tough political speech has its place, but mainly on the campaign trail."

   Hmmm...will the chattering classes on both sides of the political divide notice this suggestion?  Probably not.  He sensibly believes that incendiary statements by all the players, including the president himself, do little more that feed the spirit of incivility that smothers public discourse today. 

    But what about FREE SPEECH?  Isn't it guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution?
    
     Yes. But popular opinion has long held that one does not cry "fire" in a crowded theater, scream obscenities in public gatherings,  or behave in some other deranged manner.