"I would take the [Deborah] Ramirez accusation as tantamount to a declaration of war by the Resistance. And as the old saying goes, all’s fair in love and war."~Howard Kunstler

(Caveat Emptor)

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

Email: Wrisley.com


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September 25th, 2018
   We can't help but wonder what the kiddies thought when they overheard on the CBS evening news at suppertime last night: "...she remembers Kavanaugh had exposed himself at a drunken dormitory party, thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away."

  There seems almost to be a certain glee among reporters and commentators that it is now okay to talk bluntly about penises and charges of alledged scandalous behavior of famous people. It's not necessary  to  produce  anything in the way of solid evidence. The long ago sketchy memory of a youthful "victim" is all that matters. In the case of Deborah Ramirez it took some six days of soul and memory searching, plus counsel by an attorney and other advice, before she went public with her perfectly timed accusation about drunken carryings on at Yale university involving a young Brett Kavanaugh whom she accuses of not keeping his fly zipped. 

   One recent story tried to nail Kavanaugh by pointing out that in his lengthy legal career he apparently had a penchant for hiring attractive legal assistants. There! What does THAT tell you?

   Maybe some good will come from this present political circus, but we doubt the political left and the general news media will gain any credibility from it. And we're pretty sure there are some red faced parents out there groping for a a reasonable answer to the youthful question, "Why did that man do that to that girl?" 

Can't See The Forest.
The trees are in the way.
      Worrywart economists are nervous about the possibility of  a sharp financial/monetary correction of some kind this fall.  They point to the tribulations among currencies such as the Venezuelan bolivar, the soaring government and private debt load, plus the possibly over-exhuberant stock market.  Mr. Trump is quick to point out how strong the U.S. economy is, but hasn't said a word about the staggering debt that helps fuel it. 

       We tend to be overly cautious, which accounts for us not having amassed millions of dollars.  But our caution has kept us away from the agony of heavy debt.  That counts as a plus in our book.

        Now comes the Swiss gold bug, Egon von Greyerz :  "The final moves before a secular turn in world markets are oftebn emotional roller coasters.  Many investors know, at least subconsciously, that markets are overstretched and can turn at any time.  Since central banks have consistently "saved" investors in the last few decades, why wouldn't that continue?  Stock market bulls may be  apprehensive after a 9 year bull move.  But very few are prepared to get out. Greed and recent experience tell them that "the market always goes up."  Very few know that the market fell over 90 percent in 1929 to 1932 and took  over 25 years to return to the 1929 level."

Von Greyerz view is surely colored by his belief that precious metals are real assets while fiat currencies float on the winds of hope and faith.  But we are tracking his predictions to see if he's wrong about stocks, bonds, derivatives, and what not.  He could be wrong.  Maybe a kind of wisdom has settled on the politicians and bankers and they will not let raging inflation or catastrophic deflation grip the economies of the world.    

         We really hope he's wrong.  But we aren't ignoring his warnings...just in case.
Egon von Greyerz

Cryptocurrency may not be the "money of the future."

   Swapping dollars for bitcoin or other cryptocurrency is similar to trading dollars for stocks.  You're gambling that the dollar price will appreciate and you will see your asset appreciate without you having to do anything.  "Let your money make money" we are advised. 

    Thomas Jefferson wrote that "Gambling is taxation for the willing."  We quite agree.  We've never been inspired to campaign against gambling.  It's heavily weighted against the gambler, of course, but all of life features a certain measure of risk.  Buying a bitcoin at, say, $6,700 in the hope it would rise to $10,000 is a classic gamble - despite the assurances of promoters that the price has nowhere to go but UP.

    We received a promotion piece yesterday strongly hinting that we could turn a small investment into $3.2 million in 6 months.  The author of the brochure writes "I guarantee you'll have the chance to make 10 times your money!"  Notice his guarantee is merely that you will have the chance, not that you will actually get your money back ten times over. 
     Sounds pie-in-the-sky to us! 

      We'll revisit our bias against cryptocurrency when we see WalMart and other retail chains posting prices in "cryptos" as well as dollars. 

  (A banker friend used to call them "Perma-hock.")

     “Regular household bills should be funded by a regular household income, not home equity,” says Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com. “Wage growth has been elusive, but rising household expenses have not. And now home equity is being seen as a lifeline for those who are strapped for money with little wiggle room.”  Home Equity Loans

If more Americans are cash strapped and feel they must put second mortgages on their homes in order to meet ordinary bills there must be something amiss with reports the US is experiencing an economic boom.  With consumer and government debt soaring to heights never seen before it can hardly be claimed to be sailing in smooth economic waters. 

     We're not crying "wolf."  But we do think living beyond one's means has a bitter payoff.  The historical record agrees.

Among the disadvantages of living a long life is the tendency to assume the passage of years gives one wisdom. Not necessarily.

     However, having been born before the 1920s lost their promise in a resounding stock market crash we've been around long enough to experience the dangers of living beyond one's means and the blessings of living within one's means.

      We'll go on the record by conceding that borrowing to buy a house is often a sound plan. But taking on a second mortgage to pay ordinary bills is too often the road to ruin.


 Weather & Economic Impact  
  Commerce slowed wa-a-ay down here in the heart of South Carolina thanks to Stormy Florence.
What the economic impact will be we cannot guess - - but it will be substantial.

  This episode was one of those "rainy day events" that we were supposed to be saving money for. However, governments, corporations, and individuals have drifted away from such old-fashioned notions and rely on their creditworthiness to meet unexpected expenses.

  The question arises - how deeply into monetary debt can the world go  before the  consequences  produce  catastrophe?  We have no idea. And we're well aware of the downside of saving money for those "rainy days." Leaving cash in a bank account at a measly 1/2 percent. The inflation rate is currently 2 percent or more, which means money saved is losing purchasing power of about 1 1/2 percent. That's a tiny bit better than stowing cash under a mattress. Then it loses purchasing power at the full rate of price inflation.

  Is it possible to stop inflating?

  Of course. But it would require the government to run balanced budgets and stop creating fiat currency at at the present phenomenal rate. This would require some belt-tightening and rare is the politician who is interested in doing that. Slashing spending is hardly the traditional way to gather votes at election time.

  Examine the present situation in Venezuela for the tragic consequences of runaway inflation. History is strewn with such examples, but present first world money managers say they have the correct formula and "It can't happen here."

  We're not so sure.

"The world economy will turn this autumn and the consequences will be horrific for the world." ~Egon von Greyerz
A bold prediction! Von Greyerz may be all wet. We'll find out.

    It's true that sharp corrections in financial markets tend to occur in the autumn, but this Zurich based gold bug has flat out predicted big trouble in the weeks ahead.  We'll put a memorandum in our journal and come back to visit his prediction by the end of the year. 

     We are being reminded by news media today that we've reached the 10th anniversary of the Lehman Brothers collapse which triggered a sharp recession.  A massive monetary intervention saved the day, but staggering debt has been part of the consequence. 

      Betting on the ups and downs of economic cycles is risky business, but those who do it successfully usually wind up with a fair amount of wealth.  Von Greyerz is a contrarian, choosing to acquire assets when they are out of fashion.  (The old "buy low and sell high" theory.)  He also encourages patience.  SUBMERGING MARKET

Dat ol' Debbil, Socialism!
  "Bernie Sanders got the ball rolling," says Professor Mike Rozeff,"then socialists Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley won Democratic primary slots. Bill Maher says Americans are already socialists and the country is quasi-socialist. Comedian Jim Carrey has chipped in: “We have to say yes to socialism — to the word and everything. We have to stop apologizing.” Elizabeth Warren proposes to socialize corporate ownership, taking ownership away from stockholders."

   Hey, what's going on here? Is it possible that by the elections of 2020 we'll be seriously considering pushing the U.S. into Socialism?

   We wouldn't be surprised. America has been edging its way in that direction for nearly 90 years.  It will take only a few billion dollar's worth of clever advertising to convince a voting majority that full blown socialism is the only political path the nation should consider. A frightening number of first-time voters appear to be thinking in that direction,particularly since the liberal left have floated the idea of "free college."  SOCIALIST EUPHEMISMS

   We can't put a number on it, but we're guessing that the dollar value of time wasted dodging phony (and malicious) email - plus the precious time wasted in answering robo calls - runs into the millions, if not billions, of dollars.  Think also of the people who fall into the traps set by the greedy pests who perpetrate this stuff. 

    And we are so sick of the heavily accented guy who calls to say he is a Microsoft representative who has detected a serious flaw in our computer and wants to help us fix it.  We thank him for pointing it out and say we'll report it immediately to“Regular household bills should be funded by a regular household income, not home equity,” said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com. “Wage growth has been elusive, but rising household expenses have not. And now home equity is being seen as a lifeline for those who are strapped for money with little wiggle room.” our "I.T. guy"...then hang up. 

     Lately this email warning has been showing up

What's a dollar?
   When we were born a dollar was, by definition, 1/20th of a troy ounce of gold.  People didn't use  gold in daily transactions. They used paper notes, redeemable in gold or silver, and coins made mostly of silver. Everyone knew that a dollar was "as good as gold," and they could trade a ten dollar bill for a $10.00 gold eagle coin if they wished. 

  All that changed in 1933 when the new president, Franklin Roosevelt, called in the privately held gold to bolster the holdings of the U.S. Treasury. Times were tough. An economic depression had struck. 

  Fifteen years later, in 1948, Rep.Howard Buffett of Nebraska called for a restoration of a monetary gold standard in order to thwart the rising rate of paper money inflation.  (Note: The U.S. Constitution called for a monetary system based on precious metals and there was never an annulment or amendment of the provision.)

   The Sound Money faction has been relegated to the back burner for 85 years and there's not much chance of it gaining any traction. However, Rep. Alexander Mooney (R) WVA is pushing Bill 5404 aiming to define the U.S. Dollar as a measure of gold. The bill will surely languish in committee, but it quickens the pulse of that small faction of citizens yearning to restore the dollar to a unit of measure whose value can be trusted over a period of time.

   The late Howard Buffett said, in 1948, that "politicians of both parties will oppose the restoration of the restoration of gold, although they outwardly will seemingly favor it." 

    He was right. But remaining blind to the problem of the rapidly depreciating dollar is foolish. And dangerous.

   Invoke the 25th amendment and how the sparks will fly!
   Section 4 is so complex it makes the scholars cry.
    Ratified fifty-one years ago, when LBJ was prez,
    Section 4 was never used - so a scholar says.

When Bay State Senator Elizabeth Warren went on the warpath about invoking the
   25th Amendment to the Constitution we looked it up.  It was drafted after the assassination
    of John F.Kennedy and ratified in February of 1967.   Although presidents have invoked 
    Section 3 when dealing with medical procedures, such as being sedated for surgery, the far
     more complicated Section 4 has never been used.

We have a hunch political liberals who are eager to see President Trump run out of office will strike out
     in their attempt to do it under the formula prescribed by the 25th Amendment.  But, on the bright side, it
     might prompt people unfamiliar with the Constitution to get a copy and read it. 

A formerly anonymous editorialist speaks up.

    "Try being a conservative on the Upper West Side of Manhattan," writies NY Sun editor Seth Lipsky

    "Try being someone who believes we actually need a strong military to defend ourselves against real enemies ... who believes that Bernie Sanders’ socialism would work as well — namely, as little — as socialism always has in the past ... who believes the quality of life in New York City has plunged since Bill de Blasio was elected mayor ... who respects the flag and has stopped watching NFL football because of the whole kneeling thing ... who believes that if the Palestinians really wanted peace, there would be peace tomorrow and if the Israelis gave up their arms, they would all be dead tomorrow ... who believes that America is not a racist nation, but is, in fact, one of the most open and brilliant experiments in self-government, one that has freed more people and fed more people than any other country in history."  SETH LIPSKY

     The New York Sun no longer prints a newspaper, but it has an Internet following.  We have the impression many struggling newspapers are concentrating on their web presence with an eye to the day their printing presses must stop rolling for lack of subscribers to the print editions. . 

      Despite their conservative convictions, Lipsky and his wife, author Amity Schlaes, survive in the predominately liberal hotbed known as Manhattan.