Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Perils of Financial Over-Regulation

by |The Perils of Financial Over-Regulation
Last Friday, I gave the opening remarks at the International Finance Corporation’s annual FinTech CEO Summit — a meeting of many of the top executives involved in developing cutting-edge alternatives to conventional means for raising capital and making payments, among other things. Because the event wasn’t recorded, I thought I’d share the remarks with you here.

I’m honored to be able to address an audience consisting of many of the world’s leading financial-market innovators. I don’t often get invited to speak on the subject of financial technology. That’s probably because the most advanced piece of financial technology concerning which I possess any real expertise is the steam-powered coining press that James Watt and his business partner Matthew Boulton designed a bit more than three centuries ago.

The Iran Nuclear Deal: Peeling Back The Layers

“This thing is like an onion,” George Costanza once said on an episode of “Seinfeld.” “The more layers you peel, the more it stinks.” Just about anyone who examines the Iran nuclear deal knows how he feels.
Look at the recent bombshell report that revealed Iran will be allowed to use its own officials to investigate a military site where it’s suspected of conducting nuclear weapons work, under the terms of a secret agreement it signed with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
This unprecedented arrangement – which would involve Iranian personnel providing photos, videos and environmental samples from the Parchin military complex to the IAEA – has stoked concerns that the IAEA investigation of Iran’s past work on developing nuclear warheads will amount to little more than a public relations exercise.

Decline of Empire: Parallels Between the U.S. and Rome, Part III

by Doug Casey

Decline of Empire: Parallels Between the U.S. and Rome, Part III
See here for Part II Wars made Rome. Wars expanded the country’s borders and brought it wealth, but they also sowed the seeds of its destruction, especially the three big wars against Carthage, 264-146 BCE.
Rome began as a republic of yeoman farmers, each with his own plot of land. You had to be a landowner to join the Roman army; it was a great honor, and it wouldn’t take the riffraff. When the Republic was threatened—and wars were constant and uninterrupted from the beginning—a legionary might be gone for five, ten, or more years. His wife and children back on the farm might have to borrow money to keep things going and then perhaps default, so soldiers’ farms would go back to bush or get taken over by creditors. And, if he survived the wars, an ex-legionary might be hard to keep down on the farm after years of looting, plundering, and enslaving the enemy. On top of that, tidal waves of slaves became available to work freshly confiscated properties. So, like America, Rome became more urban and less agrarian. Like America, there were fewer family farmers but more industrial-scale latifundia.

Stagnant Wages: Americans Can’t or Won’t Compete?

Stagnant Wages: Americans Can’t or Won’t Compete?

For most Americans, wages simply aren’t rising quickly enough, and that’s blamed for holding back consumer spending and economic growth.

Jobs growth has hardly been robust, and that limits workers’ bargaining power. Since the recession ended, employment has increased 187,000 a month, whereas for the Reagan recovery the pace was 251,000 in a much smaller economy.
President Reagan cut taxes, deregulated business and engineered the 1985 Plaza Accord, which resulted in a 50 percent reduction in the exchange rate for dollar against the yen and other major currencies. In those days, Japanese, not Chinese, imports aided by a cheap currency were waxing the ears of American workers.

Trump’s Toughest Challenge—Revving Up Growth

Trump’s Toughest Challenge—Revving Up Growth

Already President Trump is set to move decisively on the economy, but he must scale huge hurdles to accomplish 3 to 4 percent economic growth.  Radical policy changes are required—tough to do even in this era of aggressive executive orders.

House leaders are working on corporate tax reform that will close loopholes, lower rates to internationally competitive levels, and shift part of the tax burden onto imports. It has a decent chance of winning enough bipartisan support in the Senate, but much more needs to be done.
Still many large businesses and most small ones are organized as limited liability corporations and pay taxes through the personal tax code—after corporate tax reform they would be saddled with effective rates above 40 percent while their corporate rivals pay half that rate or less.

How Trump Can Make the American Economy Win Again

How Trump Can Make the American Economy Win Again

Already President Trump is set to move decisively on the economy, but he must scale huge hurdles to accomplish 3 to 4 percent economic growth. Radical policy changes are required—tough to do even in this era of aggressive executive orders.

House leaders are working on corporate tax reform that will close loopholes, lower rates to internationally competitive levels and shift part of the tax burden onto imports. It has a decent chance of winning enough bipartisan support in the Senate but much more needs to be done.
Still many large businesses and most small ones are organized as limited liability corporations and pay taxes through the personal tax code—after corporate tax reform they would be saddled with effective rates above 40 percent while their corporate rivals pay half that rate or less.

As the Coup Against Trump Fails, the Threat Against His Life Rises — Paul Craig Roberts

Paul Craig Roberts

The use of the presstitute media to deny Trump the Republican presidential nomination failed.
The use of the presstitute media to deny Trump victory in the presidential election failed.
The vote recount failed.
The effort to sway the Electoral College failed.
But the effort continues.
The CIA report on Russia’s alleged interference in the US presidential election ordered by Obama is in process. Faked evidence is a hallmark of CIA operations.
In their determination to seal Trump’s ears against environmental concerns, a group of environmentalists plan to disrupt the inauguration. This in itself is of little consequence, but chaos presents opportunity for assassination.

Murdering the Innocent in Order to Support the Lie —

Paul Craig Roberts

As my readers know, I reported, factually, on the Boston Marathon alleged bombing case. I interviewed carefully the pro bono attorney, John Remington Graham, who intervened in behalf of the Russian aunt, a lawyer in the Russian Federation, in behalf of the falsely convicted younger Tsarnaev brother, Dzhokhar, the older brother having been murdered by the FBI. Graham conclusively proved that the FBI’s own evidence proved beyond any doubt that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was innocent, which means so was the older brother.
It is clear beyond reasonable doubt that there was no real bombing at the Boston Marathon and that the alleged terrorist event, using crisis actors, was an orchestration designed to convince dumbshit Americans that they really were under a “Muslim threat.” The entire foreign policy of the United States in the 21st century is based on an orchestrated “Muslim threat.”

Review of The CIA As Organized Crime

Paul Craig Roberts

If you want to learn about the CIA as a deep state within the surface state, read this book. The strength of this book is that it gives us the goods on the Phoenix program used in Vietnam for assassination and murder and explains its use in Afghanistan and how it has been established in the US under the auspices of the Department of Homeland Security. The CIA’s influence over the media lets the CIA avoid accountability and control explanations. Everything works to serve the CIA’s agendas, which are essentially power and profit.

Has The American Establishment Opted for Thermo-Nuclear War?

Paul Craig Roberts

If you want to be an American TV talking head or a Western presstitute, you are required to be braindead and integrity-challenged like Bill O’Reilly, CNN, MSNBC, and the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and all the rest.
In an interview with President Donald Trump, O’Reilly said: “Putin is a killer.”
O’Reilly is indifferent to the fact that thermo-nuclear war is a killer of planet Earth. For O’Reilly, President Trump’s desire to normalize relations with Russia is an indication that the President of the US is comfortable making deals with killers, as if America’s last three presidents have not been mass killers comfortable with their destruction in whole or part of many countries and millions of peoples.
President Trump’s response to O’Reilly’s was: “We’ve got a lot of killers. What do you think – our country’s so innocent?”

Trump Is Being Sabotaged by the Pentagon

President Trump says he wants the US to have better relations with Russia and to halt military operations against Muslim countries. But he is being undermined by the Pentagon.
The commander of US forces in Europe, General Ben Hodges, has lined up tanks on Poland’s border with Russia and fired salvos that the general says are a message to Russia, not a training exercise.
How is Trump going to normalize relations with Russia when the commander of US forces in Europe is threatening Russia with words and deeds?

Capitalism, Marxism and Black Americans

One of the most effective Marxian methods of argument has been to claim that what appears as reality is in fact illusion. For over a hundred years, Marxists have insisted that such bourgeois freedoms as freedom of speech and press, and the right of contract and exchange, hide from view what is actually a slave society.
Capitalism, the Marxists have insisted, creates the impression of equality and liberty. But beneath the surface, they say, there resides the true social relationships — those which are determined by ownership of property. Those who possess control over the means of production are the masters who rule over others. The slaves are the workers who must pay tribute to the owners of property in the form of capitalist profits. Hence, rather than a society of freedom, the Marxists say, capitalism is a social order of exploitation.

Thomas Jefferson vs. Donald Trump: A Tale of Two Presidential Inaugural Addresses

According to the Nielsen ratings, over 30.6 million people watched Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration on television on January 20, 2017. The newly sworn in president soon was in a battle with the mainstream media about whether this was larger or smaller than the numbers who watched Barack Obama’s swearing in, in 2009.
But whether the number of viewers was larger or smaller in 2009 versus 2017, it is nonetheless the case that 30.6 million is a lot of people. It is equal to almost the combined populations of the Czech Republic, Greece and Sweden. It is also nearly half the entire population of France, alone.
However, since the total population of the United States at the end of 2016 is estimated to have been around 325 million people, that means only about 9.5 percent of the U.S. population watched the 45th president take his oath of office. Or another way of saying this: 90.5 percent of Americans found something better to do that spend their time staring at their television or on computers or smartphones to see Donald Trump promise to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

The Trump Years

John Stossel

The Trump Years
Two more weeks until the new administration begins! I wonder if President Donald Trump will stick to his campaign promises -- like reducing immigration and slamming consumers by imposing a 35 percent tariff.
Hope not.
But it could have been much worse.
Bernie Sanders wanted to make college free, even though professors say classes are filled with privileged students who party and just kill time.
Both Sanders and Hillary Clinton promised a higher minimum wage and a thousand other new commandments that would do more harm than good.

Trump Bubble Bursts

John Stossel

Trump Bubble Bursts
The bubble burst. My fantasy died.
I wasn't a big Donald Trump backer -- on TV I have called him a bully, a narcissist, etc. -- but his first days were thrilling!
Finally, a president who meant it when he said he'd cut red tape that kills growth, a man who mocks political correctness and sneers at leftist reporters. Finally, an executive choosing good people: Andy Puzder, Scott Pruitt, Betsy DeVos, Mick Mulvaney, Mike Pompeo...
These are not the political hacks I've come to expect from D.C. -- not the smug bureaucracy-lovers Hillary Clinton would have inflicted on us. These are people who understand the limits of government command and control, people eager to lift the web of opportunity-smothering rules.
Trump revived the Keystone Pipeline, froze federal hiring. Wow.

Smearing Team Trump

John Stossel

Smearing Team Trump
Oh, no! I did it again.
It was a foolish mistake. But I slipped.
I read The New York Times.
This is bad for my health, because I get so mad at the smug socialist spin, but how can I not read it? It's my hometown paper. My wife wakes me up with indignant questions like, "How can you say government is too big? The Times says ... "
Aargh! Nearly every day brings a new Times outrage.
Saturday, a front-page story smeared Labor Secretary nominee Andy Puzder.
The story begins, "Decades before President Trump nominated him ... Puzder went to battle with federal labor regulators ... "
Wait a second.  "Decades before"? They went back decades to criticize him? Actually, three decades -- to 1983, when as a young lawyer, Puzder represented a client whom the Labor Department accused of squandering union money.

Decline of Empire: Parallels Between the U.S. and Rome, Part II

by Doug Casey

Decline of Empire: Parallels Between the U.S. and Rome, Part II
See here for Part I Like the Romans, we’re supposedly ruled by laws, not by men. In Rome, the law started with the 12 Tablets in 451 BCE, with few dictates and simple enough to be inscribed on bronze for all to see. A separate body of common law developed from trials, held sometimes in the Forum, sometimes in the Senate.
When the law was short and simple, the saying “Ignorantia juris non excusat” (ignorance of the law is no excuse) made sense. But as the government and its legislation became more ponderous, the saying became increasingly ridiculous. Eventually, under Diocletian, law became completely arbitrary, with everything done by the emperor’s decrees—we call them Executive Orders today.
I’ve mentioned Diocletian several times already. It’s true that his draconian measures held the Empire together, but it was a matter of destroying Rome in order to save it. As in the U.S., in Rome statute and common law gradually devolved into a maze of bureaucratic rules.

Decline of Empire: Parallels Between the U.S. and Rome, Part I

by Doug Casey

Decline of Empire: Parallels Between the U.S. and Rome, Part I
As some of you know, I’m an aficionado of ancient history. I thought it might be worthwhile to discuss what happened to Rome and based on that, what’s likely to happen to the U.S. Spoiler alert: There are some similarities between the U.S. and Rome.
But before continuing, please seat yourself comfortably. This article will necessarily cover exactly those things you’re never supposed to talk about—religion and politics—and do what you’re never supposed to do, namely, bad-mouth the military.
There are good reasons for looking to Rome rather than any other civilization when trying to see where the U.S. is headed. Everyone knows Rome declined, but few people understand why. And, I think, even fewer realize that the U.S. is now well along the same path for pretty much the same reasons, which I’ll explore shortly.

Doug Casey on Cuba

by Doug Casey

Doug Casey on Cuba
Editor's Note: Fidel Castro, the longtime Cuban politician and revolutionary, recently passed away. Doug Casey had the chance to meet the Cuban leader back in 1994. Here is an article Doug wrote about Cuba and his encounters with Fidel. It was written in the 1990s, but it's still as relevant as ever.
Half the fun of Cuba is getting there.
I was there in the 1990s with about a dozen financiers from Europe. The contingent from England, Norway, and Switzerland came over together from London, changing planes in Miami for Panama. When an impertinent customs clerk asked one of them where he was going, he innocently responded “Cuba.” All six men were hustled into a locked room, with all kinds of armed and uniformed types milling about, and were detained there for two hours while agents ran background checks on them. The government couldn’t have cared less if they missed their connection. Your tax dollars at work, winning friends and influencing people for America.

Doug Casey: Comparing the 1930s and Today

by Doug Casey

Doug Casey: Comparing the 1930s and Today
You've heard the axiom "History repeats itself." It does, but never in exactly the same way. To apply the lessons of the past, we must understand the differences of the present.
During the American Revolution, the British came prepared to fight a successful war—but against a European army. Their formations, which gave them devastating firepower, and their red coats, which emphasized their numbers, proved the exact opposite of the tactics needed to fight a guerrilla war.
Before World War I, generals still saw the cavalry as the flower of their armies. Of course, the horse soldiers proved worse than useless in the trenches.
Before World War II, in anticipation of a German attack, the French built the "impenetrable" Maginot Line. History repeated itself and the attack came, but not in the way they expected. Their preparations were useless because the Germans didn't attempt to penetrate it; they simply went around it, and France was defeated.

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