YOUGHAL, IRELAND – Here at the Diary, we try to connect the dots.
Today, we connect some big ones…
Fire and Brimstone
The papers are full of fire and brimstone concerning Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh… and what happened in a boozy bedroom long ago.
The New York Times calls it “an explosive charge”…
It was 36 years ago. The accusation: There was a party, alcohol. A 17-year-old boy was drunk and started groping a 15-year-old girl, pinning her down and covering her mouth so she couldn’t scream. Today, she doesn’t remember some of the details. He insists it didn’t happen at all.
Poor Christine Blasey Ford – the accuser – decided to do her public duty. Why she thought the Senate should know about Mr. Kavanaugh as a 17-year-old is not clear.
But she set off an uproar… at least, a Washington-style uproar, circa 2018.
We’ve never met Mr. Kavanaugh. Nor have we followed his career or parsed his legal decisions. But we’ve been in a bedroom more than once. And we were once 17 years old.
And if every public servant were disqualified on the basis of what he got up to in high school, Washington would be empty.
Myths and Mysteries
We also spent three years at Georgetown Law School, sitting at the feet of some of the nation’s leading legal scholars. We learned a few things there, too.
First, Supreme Court justices aren’t saints. Instead, they are subject to myths, mysteries, and mob thinking, just like the rest of us.
Second, anyone who expects Brett Kavanaugh or the Supreme Court to make any significant changes – take on the Deep State… or pull the plug on the Swamp – is going to be disappointed.
The Supreme Court sits not on Olympus… but squarely in the middle of the Swamp. It is important to the Swamp denizens because it can shift the balance of power from one faction to the other.
But not since 1937 has it ever threatened the Swamp itself. Back then, Franklin Roosevelt proposed to “pack the court” with friendly judges if it got in the way of his New Deal; it quickly fell into line.
And now, in the brouhaha concerning Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination, America has squandered even more of its most precious resource – time.
The Kavanaugh affair may take up some 100 million hours’ worth of the public’s time… and help it not to notice what is really going on.
Over the last half century, the feds have taken up, squandered, and misallocated more and more of our time.
We saw yesterday that the typical working stiff has to spend about twice as much of his time today earning his house and his truck as he did in 1971.
We saw, too, that the entry of a billion new people into the international labor pool should have cut his costs, thereby increasing his real income. But housing is not imported… so it escaped competition.
But it did not escape the feds’ zoning, building codes, and work rules. House prices more than doubled in real terms, while real wages remained the same.
And we’ve always wondered about the trucks. In South America, we drive a small Amarok made by Volkswagen. It is one of many small, light, fairly inexpensive pickups that you can’t find in the U.S.
The feds put a 25% tariff on imported trucks, effectively eliminating the cheap imports.
The Tax Foundation think tank calculates that the typical citizen must work from January 1 to April 24 to pay for government. But that’s just the direct cost. In addition, there are 96,000 pages of regulations – each demanding time and attention.
Few politicians have been willing to vote for tax hikes in order to cover costs, so they switched to more indirect means – regulation and debt, mainly.
And today, nearly every transaction involves some oversight, control, or paperwork by the feds. And each one takes time.
Time – not oil, gold, or water – is our ultimate resource. And as it is stolen, wasted, and frittered away… so, too, are our lives.
Debt is also a claim on time…
The typical American works 19 hours per month for his truck… and 92 hours per month for his house. And taking the Tax Foundation figures… he works another 53 hours per month supporting the feds.
But Americans don’t seem to notice. They stand in line at airports – even though there is very little threat – to get scanned and frisked.
They fill out forms. They vote… and rat out old friends three decades after the fact. Americans are mesmerized, distracted, and enthralled… as their time is taken away.
Here is how the dots line up… The Kavanaugh affair is best seen as entertainment – a time-waster and diversion.
The fight – between pro and con factions – is a Swamp fight. Neither side would reduce the power of the Swamp itself… or threaten the established elite that runs it.
Mr. Kavanaugh and the furies assaulting him are all Swamp critters. Mr. Kavanaugh was a student at the Deep State insider Georgetown Prep when Ms. Blasey Ford was at the Deep State insider counterpart, Holton-Arms.
Whether he sits on the Supreme Court or not… there will be no significant change in the direction of the country. The Swamp doesn’t care about Roe v. Wade, Marbury v. Madison, or Dred Scott v. Sandford.
Yes, of course, there are different factions within the Swamp – little islands infested with people who are worried about global warming or inequality… and deep, dark holes where the monsters want to put in place an electronic, totalitarian state to control every aspect of your life using algorithms backed by machine guns.
The factions fight it out. But what they share is more important than what they argue about…
All are committed to shifting power, prestige, and money from the public to themselves.
MARKET INSIGHT: INVESTORS SEE CALM SEAS AHEAD
By Joe Withrow, Head of Research, Bonner & Partners
Stock market volatility expectations are dissipating…
In today’s chart, we check back in on the CBOE Volatility Index, or VIX. Known as Wall Street’s “fear gauge,” the VIX tracks investors’ expectations of how dramatic the S&P 500’s price swings will be over the next 30 days.
A rising VIX suggests that investors expect stock prices to be volatile in the coming days. And a falling VIX suggests that investors see relatively calm times ahead.
As you can see, the VIX spiked up to 37 in February, when the S&P 500 suffered a 10% correction. But the index has steadily fallen back below 12 – which is where it was for much of 2017.
This suggests that investors are becoming complacent once again. And with the S&P 500 trading at all-time highs… and official economic numbers relatively robust… who could blame them?
But as master trader Jeff Clark likes to tell readers of his Market Minute, “Periods of low volatility are always followed by periods of high volatility.”
In other words, the low volatility we’re seeing can’t last forever. And as the spike in February showed, when volatility does return, it can return in a big way.
– Joe Withrow
Tilray’s Wild Ride
Shares of cannabis company Tilray went on a wild ride yesterday. After its CEO appeared on television to speak about the company’s expansion plans, the stock price nearly doubled. Then, in the span of an hour, it collapsed. And the drama might not be over yet…
Trump to OPEC: Cut Prices Now
President Trump is taking aim at OPEC, the most powerful oil cartel in the world. The price of crude oil is reaching $80 a barrel. And POTUS appears to be drawing a line in the sand.
California’s War on the U.S. Dollar
A new American civil war may be brewing. And the epicenter of the coming crisis could be in California’s Bay Area, where a local government initiative is poised to undermine the power of the U.S. dollar.
In the mailbag, Bill’s stories from Ireland are on readers’ minds…
I don’t know… Maybe it’s just me, but I couldn’t help but draw parallels between present-day America and Bill’s recounting of the British conquest of Ireland and how it all turned out for them, courtesy of politics.
The widening gulf between the right and the left, the red and the blue, and how it is all playing out in the political realm is the result of the settlement and conquest of what would become known as the United States of America by Europeans – the British chief among them.
Will America end up in a state similar to Ireland? Will some of these “united” states (divided by Trump) actually secede after issuing their own currencies and as a result of conflict with Trump’s Washington? Will there really be a second civil war, as some have predicted? We’ll have to wait and see. Interesting times…
– Dale A.
Today’s piece you penned is about fantasy. You’ve scooted from the 1600s to the 1900s as if, when evaluating decisions about running a country, time were meaningless. Hindsight is 20:20, especially when you smudge fact with fiction.
Time isn’t meaningless; nor should it be ignored or treated with such short shrift by those attempting to write about history and what it can or should tell us. Your analysis is less than sincere, shortsighted, misleading, and, in the end, meaningless. Simply living in Ireland does not make one James Joyce, Michael Collins, James Connolly, or even Gerry Adams. You are better than this. My advice? You really need to wash some dishes in one of those Irish pubs. It might do your writing some good.
– Stephen L.
Meanwhile, a question on how the world’s money system operates…
There’s now $250 trillion of debt globally. But the central bankers “only” printed not even one-tenth of that. Where did the rest of the money come from?
Editor’s Note: Recently, Dan Denning, Bill’s coauthor on The Bill Bonner Letter, took up this question. Dan showed how today’s money world works. Then, he revealed why some in power are out to change it… and not for the better. Catch up – and see what “Modern Monetary Tyranny” means for your wealth – right here.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT…
If you’re easily offended, do NOT buy this book…
In it, legendary speculator Doug Casey gives his unfiltered take on everything from the modern space race… to “genderless babies”… and even last year’s NFL protests.
This book would likely be banned from a bookstore. But you can get your own copy right here.