POITOU, FRANCE – Yesterday, the Dow fell 234 points – or roughly 1%.
No big deal.
Commentators said investors were worried about disasters – both natural and man-made.
Out at sea, another storm gathers force… threatening the sugar islands and America’s low-lying southern border.
Meanwhile, in Washington, dark clouds and dumbbells whirl and whiz about, threatening the nation’s finances.
Curiously, the natural disaster may help delay the man-made kind.
Congress was setting up for a bloody fight on the debt ceiling increase. Now, according to this morning’s headlines, it may be able to slip the debt ceiling increase into the pocket of a bill to provide disaster relief to the Texas coast.
Dixie-based, fiscally conservative members of Congress – if there are any – may find themselves outflanked. They are opposed to boondoggle legislation, but not when it is aimed at their part of the country.
Still, there’s some grumbling among the conservatives. And who knows? Maybe they’ll manage to show some backbone after all.
Either way, it hardly matters. Everyone knows the fix is in. The debt ceiling will be raised one way or another. This is an economy and a government that live on credit.
Since the bottom of the 2008 financial crisis, federal debt has increased five times faster than the economy that supports it. And stock prices have been going up 10 times as fast.
There is no way the Deep State would ever allow its credit to be cut off.
Meanwhile, among today’s other headline stories is this from CBS:
“Congress reacts to Trump ending DACA.”
We speak, of course, of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that allows the “Dreamers” to stay in the U.S. even though they came illegally as children.
It is too early to know how it will go down. But by tossing the DACA issue to Congress, the president has also thrown an additional landmine in the path of his proposed tax cuts.
Congress will have to deal with DACA first.
Stocks measure not today’s values… but tomorrow’s.
If investors pay record prices today, they must see an even brighter future tomorrow. But where? How? We squint. We put on our glasses. Try as we might, we can’t see it.
What we see is a polished floor, with marbles scattered all over it. And there, coming in the front door, with big feet and a small head, is Mr. Government.
Occasionally, in the private sector economy, people steal your money… or cheat you out of it. But most of what goes on in the money world is win-win. People make deals with each other willingly, each hoping to come out ahead.
Sometimes they do; sometimes they don’t. But they learn from their mistakes… and the world bumbles forward. How, what, when, why? That’s our subject here at the Diary.
Politics, on the other hand, is dishonest. It is all claptrap and folderol. It begins under false pretenses; politicians claim they are just working for the benefit of others. Then, upon this fraudulent foundation, a whole superstructure of deceit, swindle, and bamboozle is put up.
Government programs and policies are inevitably bungles, bezzles, or outright disasters. Win-lose deals are forced on people (“for their own good,” of course).
These invariably leave the world poorer, more squalid, and dumber. Nobody learns anything.
And no government scheme is such a forlorn catastrophe that people don’t want to repeat it as soon as they have forgotten what happened the last time.
For example, in response to our whimsical look at setting wages on Monday, a friend reports on his experience:
I lived the first 26 years of my life in the USSR. That was exactly the system you described. The government was setting ALL the salaries.
Obviously, in such a situation, the perks given to certain officials (free car, free relatively nice housing, free country house, etc.) were even more important. We all know how the USSR has ended. Perhaps those who advocate these living wages in the USA or elsewhere in the West should learn from the history.
Furthermore, the USSR had essentially no welfare system. Not being employed (unless a genuine invalid) was a criminal offense. Why don’t they advocate this rule as well?
Having learned nothing from the experience on the steppes, the politicians of the 50 states are eager to have a go at it again.
Every detail of modern life is to be carefully controlled and centrally planned. The apparatchiks and nomenklatura of modern America pull out the old Cyrillic handbooks for translation.
And the 17 spy agencies of the USA look to Vladimir Putin’s FSB and its forerunners, the KGB, the NKGB, and the Cheka, for inspiration and instruction.
Here at the Diary, we prefer the honest world of filthy lucre. But although we make repeated attempts to escape it, each time we are pulled back into the gulag.
By most measures, U.S. stocks and bonds are more expensive than ever in history. They are so pricey because the feds – with their centrally planned, made-in-Washington, fake credit system – made them that way.
As asset prices rise, the risk of disappointment increases, too. And since asset prices now depend on the feds, disappointment is practically guaranteed.
When the flat feet find the round marbles – watch out.
BY CHRIS LOWE, EDITOR AT LARGE, Bonner & partners
“The bitcoin party may be coming to an end,” according to a column on popular financial news site MarketWatch.
This follows the sudden crackdown by the Chinese government over the weekend on initial coin offerings (ICOs) – fundraising rounds by crypto startups that see digital coins sold rather than shares.
But as today’s chart of bitcoin shows, the doomsayers may have gotten ahead of themselves.
As you can see, bitcoin fell 12% this week following news of the Chinese clampdown on ICOs.
But that pales in comparison with bitcoin’s 635% rise over the past 12 months.
– Chris Lowe
American Universal Basic Income’s Big Problem
The idea of a “universal basic income” is becoming popular in the U.S. Hawaii is the first state to explore the policy. There’s just one unanswered question. Who will pay for it?
Your Retirement May Be in Danger From Congress
Congress intends to overhaul the U.S. tax code. But to pay for certain tax cuts, the government may try to find the funding elsewhere. One possible source: your 401(k).
This “Mad Scientist’s” Invention Will Be a Reality Soon
In 1901, Nikola Tesla designed an invention that would have transformed our world in profound ways. Unfortunately, Tesla’s final invention never saw the light of day… until now.
In response to Labor Day’s Diary, readers consider the “living wage.”
The living wage has always been an absurdity. Unfortunately this is also the case with most designated pay. The top executives can often earn more. They call it compensation by arranging the buying of their own shares, or making a complete mess at their company. They get well compensated for leaving quietly, then receive a golden "hello" at their next port of call.
The whole idea is futile, except as a political exercise to buy votes. This sort of thing currently passes off as policy. No surprise here as, more than ever, we are in the hands of imbeciles. I like your articles very much, by the way. It comforts me that some sanity and sense of humor still exist in our very strange world!
– Victor J.
If you want McDonald’s to pay their workers more and keep costs down, just cap the pay of the CEO and COO of the companies at no more than 300 times the salary of their average worker.
– James S.
It’s too bad the sanity of your modest proposal would, at best, be seen by the Deep State and all its well-entrenched attendant followers as heresy if not outright treasonous. Of course, most of them will never read it anyway… unfortunately.
– David K.
The minimum wage is of course not what it’s proposed to be, raising the standard of living for the lesser able or qualified among us. I suppose you could define it in many ways. I have often simply described it as a tax increase, presumably on those getting the higher wages but the taxes don’t come from the wage earner. They come from the people who the wage earner works for, the customer.
How much of the increase in the price of the Big Mac was necessary to pay the wage increase and how much of that is increased payroll taxes? How much does it drive up the prices of the things these lowest on the wage scale need to by to survive? And in the end is it actually a net gain for them? I suspect not. It’s a net gain for government increasing inflation and tax revenues by design.
– Mike R.
While I agree with most of your proposed wages for various occupations, the part about pilots, policemen and firefighters need to be adjusted. Some pilots have a much higher chance of being involved in a fatal crash than other pilots, and those involved in policing and firefighting are in similar circumstances. Those who may be putting their lives on the line should, in my opinion, have higher pay rates than those who do not.
– Dave O.
Here’s a suggestion for your proposed pay-scale… Lawyers: unemployed!
– David J.
Why not have politicians pay for the privilege of having their seat? Each year, they receive no wage, no political donations. They get negative value from their positions, just like their negative interest rates… will let you expand on that as you see fit…
– Bruce B.
I had a hard time seeing much difference between the first and last group you identified. Was that intended or just an entertaining probe of the fruitless subject?
When I hired a person to do a job I tried to pay them the fair value of what it was worth to me. A person washing the dishes provides a good service but the cook is the one with the talent and ability to prepare a food that attracts the customer. Clean plate – very nice but good food on a paper plate will be okay and sustaining if the food is really good.
Like all of your essays – even those I don’t agree with!
– Jerry K.
In one week, tech giant Apple will reveal the iPhone 8…
Bill’s chief technology analyst, and former vice president of a key Apple supplier, Jeff Brown believes he’s identified the four best ways to profit from Apple’s newest iPhone. And it has nothing to do with buying Apple stock. Watch this presentation before it closes at midnight.