The Economy: Past, Present and Future
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Will the world’s middle classes rise up, to reclaim $21 Trillion hidden offshore?

Will the world’s middle classes rise up, to reclaim $21 Trillion hidden offshore? | The Economy: Past, Present and Future | Scoop.it

The new radicalism that may be demanded in the 2020s -- especially by emerging middle classes in the developing world -- is to give all people a chance to compete fairly, free from parasitism by their homegrown kleptocrats and from the rising global variety. Free from the secret, conspiring control of a caste that Adam Smith himself called the oppressors of freedom and market economics across 6000 years.

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The Economy: Past, Present and Future
The Economy: Past, Present and Future
A Contrarian View on the Economy
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A Primer on Supply-Side vs Demand-Side Economics

A Primer on Supply-Side vs Demand-Side Economics | The Economy: Past, Present and Future | Scoop.it

For three decades, proponents of Supply Side Economics told skeptics "just watch and see what will happen!" (Whenever top tax rates were cut.) Okay, we've watched. And absolutely every large-scale forecast made by promoters of Supply Side Economics failed -- diametrically -- without major exception.

The uber-rich did not take their tax-break largesse and invest it in innovative/productive equipment. They poured it into either passive investments -- what Adam Smith derided as "rent-seeking" -- or else risky financial instruments and asset bubbles. Above all, the direct forecast that reduced revenues would erase federal deficits went directly opposite to observed fact.

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Two Very Different Excuses for Government Intervention

Two Very Different Excuses for Government Intervention | The Economy: Past, Present and Future | Scoop.it
Americans have a tendency to differentiate between government interventions that increase opportunity versus interventions that aim at fairness in outcomes. Outcomes-equalization puts negative pressure on what Americans feel are positive sum games that, in order to function well, must remain competitive and thus have winners. Viscerally, they feel it undermines ambition, encouraging laziness and whining. We have all heard this story told, often in its nastier-prejudiced forms. And yet, there is some sound, underlying basis.
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A Nation of Shopkeepers

A Nation of Shopkeepers | The Economy: Past, Present and Future | Scoop.it

“To found a great empire for the sole purpose of raising up a people of customers may at first sight appear a project fit only for a nation of shopkeepers. It is, however, a project altogether unfit for a nation of shopkeepers; but extremely fit for a nation whose government is influenced by shopkeepers.” – Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations.

 

John Mauldin and David Brin disagree over Adam Smith and Supply Side Voodoo Economics. 

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Solving World Debt Through Radical Economic Transparency

Solving World Debt Through Radical Economic Transparency | The Economy: Past, Present and Future | Scoop.it

The proposal is radical economic transparency. Imagine a simple requirement, negotiated into a treaty that encompassed the world, that is so simple it can be encapsulated in a few sentences.Anyone who owns anything larger than a small farm or shop must simply  declare and avow, openly, that they own it. People should state what it is that they own, and how they came to own it.  

Oh, there is one necessary corollary to spell out. 

 Further -- no property may be possessed by any set of holding companies more than two layers deep, before getting to actual human people, who admit, assert and avow that ownership.

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Bitcoin and other DACs -- a new cyber-lifeform?

Bitcoin and other DACs -- a new cyber-lifeform? | The Economy: Past, Present and Future | Scoop.it

Putting aside the way that Bitcoin empowers secrecy in transactions… which you would expect the author of The Transparent Society to treat with some skepticism. Or the fact that Bitcoin helps to empower skulduggerous transactions, such as the "Silk Road" market for illegal services; this is not seen by cypher-libertarians as a flaw, but as a feature.  It may surprise you to learn that I am blasé about such things.  For one thing, I deem the chance that the system is not fully understood and penetrated by the NSA already to be virtually nil.  One chief effect may be to give the intelligence services their own way to transmit un-traceable cash with near perfect plausible deniability.

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How the US saved the world by buying vast amounts of stuff...

How the US saved the world by buying vast amounts of stuff... | The Economy: Past, Present and Future | Scoop.it

Far outweighing all "aid" the world ever saw, the greatest force for good in the world has consisted of Americans purchasing megatons of crap we never had to buy in the first place, under trade rules designed to favor those thousand of foreign factories. 

We are SIMULTANEOUSLY lifting both China and India toward prosperity. Nations amassing more than two billion people. At the same time.

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Liberals, you must reclaim Adam Smith

Liberals, you must reclaim Adam Smith | The Economy: Past, Present and Future | Scoop.it
Liberals should with agility reclaim the "First Liberal" -- Adam Smith -- and hammer their opponents with him! It is the one move that would take them utterly by surprise, winning over millions of moderates and small businessmen.  Try saying this:
"We like competition and open-flat and fair markets!  They are the wealth generators that then enabled us to take on great projects like education and science and helping the poor. The real destroyers of that healthy version of capitalism were denounced by Adam Smith, and by the American founders -- monopolists and secretive cheaters, and those who would be lord-owners of everything. Getting rich by innovating new goods and services in a truly competitive market? That's great! Grabbing everything through cartels of cheaters? That is what Smith and the Founders denounced.
"So stop listening to paid shills pushing a return to feudalism! Come negotiate with us over how to keep it all open and healthy and competitive... and so productive that we can take on the countless challenges ahead."
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"Allocation vs Markets" - an ancient struggle with strange modern implications

"Allocation vs Markets" - an ancient struggle with strange modern implications | The Economy: Past, Present and Future | Scoop.it

The deliberately provocative title “Bottomless Well” forecasts a coming feast of both energy and human empowerment -- a predicted perfect storm of human problem-solving creativity -- arising from a combination of mass education, freedom and fecund market forces. It is, deep down, yet another expression of what’s recently been called the Copenhagen Doctrine or, more generally, the precept of Faith in Blind Markets (FIBM).

Now first let me put aside any notion that I’m an adherent of the opposite principle -- the general notion called Guided Allocation of Resources (GAR). As you will see below, I most definitely am not!

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Why a Transaction Fee Matters to You

Why a Transaction Fee Matters to You | The Economy: Past, Present and Future | Scoop.it

Extremely modest in scale, the transaction fee would not even slightly inconvenience normal traders, like you and me. But it could prevent disastrous bubbles and other calamities. This zero-point-zero-three-percent (o.03%) fee  could raise a whopping deficit-curbing $352 BILLION dollars in ten years, while helping capital markets to settle down, avoid bubbles and computer runaway-meltdowns, while returning to both individuals and regular companies a fighting chance to participate in capital markets on an equal footing.

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The Unlikeliness of a Positive Sum Society

The Unlikeliness of a Positive Sum Society | The Economy: Past, Present and Future | Scoop.it

Today’s “modern large-scale capitalist representative democracy cum welfare state cum corporate oligopoly” works largely because the systems envisioned by John Locke and Adam Smith have burgeoned fantastically, producing synergies in highly nonlinear ways that another prominent social philosopher -- Karl Marx -- never imagined. Ways that neither Marx nor the ruling castes of prior cultures even could imagine.

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Must the Rich be Lured into Investing? Who are the Real "Job Creators?"

Must the Rich be Lured into Investing? Who are the Real "Job Creators?" | The Economy: Past, Present and Future | Scoop.it

The rationale for that immense tax cut for (mostly) rich investors was simple and alluring - that super-low rates would entice more of the rich to invest in companies within the U.S., helping them to increase their productive capacity and hire more workers.

 

Moreover, the resulting boom in economic activity would then result in so much new tax revenue, even at low rates, that deficits would disappear.

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Libertarians and Conservatives must choose: Competitive Enterprise or Idolatry of Property

Libertarians and Conservatives must choose: Competitive Enterprise or Idolatry of Property | The Economy: Past, Present and Future | Scoop.it

Let’s start by asking: what did Smith and Hayek say?

No, it wasn't "laissez faire" or social darwinism or extolling the virtues of greed. Though both men praised private enterprise and market initiative, they did not share today's idolatry of personal and family wealth as the fundamental sacrament of economics. Rather, Adam Smith essentially founded our modern phase of the Western Enlightenment by anchoring a central postulate -- one that Pericles and Locke discussed earlier, and that others, like Hayek, later embellished. The postulate that human beings are supreme rationalizers and self-deceivers.

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Will the world’s middle classes rise up, to reclaim $21 Trillion hidden offshore?

Will the world’s middle classes rise up, to reclaim $21 Trillion hidden offshore? | The Economy: Past, Present and Future | Scoop.it

The new radicalism that may be demanded in the 2020s -- especially by emerging middle classes in the developing world -- is to give all people a chance to compete fairly, free from parasitism by their homegrown kleptocrats and from the rising global variety. Free from the secret, conspiring control of a caste that Adam Smith himself called the oppressors of freedom and market economics across 6000 years.

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Stop Using Adam Smith and F.A. Hayek to Support Your Political Ideology 

Stop Using Adam Smith and F.A. Hayek to Support Your Political Ideology  | The Economy: Past, Present and Future | Scoop.it

The irony of faith in blind markets: When Adam Smith gets over-simplified into a religious caricature, what you get is "faith in blind markets" - or FIBM - a dogma that proclaims that the state should have no role in guiding economic affairs, in picking winners or losers, or interfering in the maneuvers or behaviors of capitalists.

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Regulated competition is the wellspring of our revolution

Regulated competition is the wellspring of our revolution | The Economy: Past, Present and Future | Scoop.it
Way back in the last century, I was pointing out that those proclaiming “Faith in Blind Markets” — or FIBM — mostly ignore those 60 centuries, when lack of market regulation simply meant “those who have, rule.” Across that era, laissez faire inevitably led to feudalism and stunningly stupid governance. The last 200 years have been an exception to that brutally nescient and incompetent span. This was Adam Smith’s foremost complaint.

Does this validate the opponents of FIBM? Those who proclaim Guided Allocation of Resources, or GAR? Surely the examples of Leninism, Maoism and Japan and China show that central control has severe limitations. Without any doubt, the FIBM guys have a point — that there’s such a thing as too much regulation. (Ironically, which U.S. political party actually de-regulates obsolete agencies and loosens regulation, as often as it tightens it? Democrats, by far.)

I go into the tradeoffs of GAR and FIBM elsewhere.  But the outlines are clear.  Both cults want control and allocation by elites. The FIBM crowd (who call themselves “libertarians” but in fact are not) differ only in which elite they would make all-powerful allocators — not bureaucrats, answerable to an electorate, but a secretively-incestuous CEO caste of 5,000 golf buddies.  

That’s not flat-open-fair-creative market competition, and it certainly isn't Hayek. That is hypocrisy. It’s the tired old way: feudalism.

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So Do Outcomes Matter More than Rhetoric?

So Do Outcomes Matter More than Rhetoric? | The Economy: Past, Present and Future | Scoop.it
No matter which party you support, you “know” one thing about their attitudes and behavior... how Republicans and Democrats differ toward deficit spending. Alas, what you "know" is exactly opposite to what is true. Let's take a closer look...and use a crucial concept from Basic Calculus for analysis: 
The crucial 2nd derivative of debt… the pace at which the rate-of-change of the federal deficit is itself changing… either moving toward fiscal disaster or away from it… has been positive (toward accelerating debt) during almost every year of every Republican administration since Eisenhower. In stark and dramatic contrast - that crucial metric is always negative (deceleration) every year of every Democratic administration.
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Transparent Ownership Treaty

Transparent Ownership Treaty | The Economy: Past, Present and Future | Scoop.it

If you own something, you must openly avow and say that you own it. That's it. Any property that has not been claimed by a human being, family, or clearly tracked group of humans within three years will revert to the state and be re-sold to pay down the public debt.
Think about it.  What does "ownership" mean, if you are unwilling to state, openly, "I own that"?  So many problems in the world can be attributed to murky title, from peasants abused by a nearby lord to an oil tanker that befouled beaches in Brittany with no owner ever held accountable, because of deeply nested shell companies.

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Calling Bluff on the Debt Ceiling "Carpocalypse"

Calling Bluff on the Debt Ceiling "Carpocalypse" | The Economy: Past, Present and Future | Scoop.it

The cause of panic in D.C. is fear that the U.S. credit rating will collapse, if the debt ceiling isn't raised in time. America is said to be the only major nation that's never defaulted on its obligations, resulting in easy access to cheap bonds. And indeed, a true default on interest and principle payments could do serious harm, raising risk assessments and borrowing costs for ourselves and for our children. But that won't happen -- despite the shrill tones in the debate.  For we live in unreasonable times, with our bridges already set aflame by a foreign-owned propaganda machine. 

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How Americans Spent Themselves into Ruin... But Saved the World

How Americans Spent Themselves into Ruin... But Saved the World | The Economy: Past, Present and Future | Scoop.it

How the American consumer came to propel the export-driven development of Japan, Korea, Malaysia, China and now India:  A complex, and even inspiring explanation for how the greatest wealth transfer of all time -- which has lifted several billion people out of poverty -- actually came about.  I reveal how George Marshall and the United States chose, in 1946, to behave differently from any other "pax" empire, and thereby changed the world.

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The Contradiction of Capital Markets

The Contradiction of Capital Markets | The Economy: Past, Present and Future | Scoop.it

Can companies really gain investment capital via the stock market? Here I discuss the myth that equity markets efficiently raise capital. The whole notion that a company benefits very much, when its stock price rises, is absurd.  

 

The issuance of new shares - the proceeds of which go to new products, capital equipment and so on - should be tax-favored, and not (gambling) dividends and capital gains that benefit competitive capitalism not... one... iota.

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David Brin proposes using a computer model to simplify the U.S. tax code

David Brin proposes using a computer model to simplify the U.S. tax code | The Economy: Past, Present and Future | Scoop.it

Writing in the Daily Kos, Brin suggests a "no losers" revamp of the tax code, that eliminates tons of provisions but ensures that the net result will not change the tax situation for 100 representative classes of Americans.

 

You could model the tax code on a computer, and program it to eliminate excess provisions without causing any major changes to tax liabilities.

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Eight causes of the deficit "fiscal cliff." Which party is most responsible?

Eight causes of the deficit "fiscal cliff." Which party is most responsible? | The Economy: Past, Present and Future | Scoop.it

To many U.S. voters, one issue towers foremost -- the Fiscal Cliff of rising public debt. We appear to have come a long way since Vice President Dick Cheney famously said "deficits don't matter." Today, frightened by much-worse debt crises in Greece, Spain etc, Americans fret about floods of red ink that reached more than a trillion dollars a year under George W. Bush, and that have gone down only slightly under Barack Obama. First, we must (at last) list the reasons why the U.S. went from Clintonian surpluses to devastating hemorrhages in just a few years.

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The "No-Losers" Tax Simplification Proposal

The "No-Losers" Tax Simplification Proposal | The Economy: Past, Present and Future | Scoop.it

I know a simple way the sheer bulk of the tax code -- its complexity, in numbers of rules, words or exceptions -- could be trimmed by perhaps 70% or more, without much political pain or obstructionism! Because the method is designed to be mostly politically neutral. It does not aim at some utopian fantasy (like the Flat Taxers rave about.) It gores only a few sacred cows. It would be cheap and easy to implement. And almost guaranteed to work! (Only accountants should hate it for the effects on their lucrative business.) Yet, to the best of my knowledge, this method has never been tried, or even proposed. Alas.

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A Transaction Fee Might Save Capital Markets... & Protect Us From The Terminator!

A Transaction Fee Might Save Capital Markets... & Protect Us From The Terminator! | The Economy: Past, Present and Future | Scoop.it

Computerized flash programs dive in and pounce on any detected market trend, making millions of automatic trades, detecting or anticipating the decisions of human traders...some tout that these programs provide a service -- "efficiency." But which efficiency? For whom? A levy of just 0.1%, or even less, levied on each stock transaction might help bring these hyper-fast trading programs under control.

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Defending enterprise from its "defenders"

Defending enterprise from its "defenders" | The Economy: Past, Present and Future | Scoop.it

Let us be plain. Across 4,000 years of recorded history, there has been no greater enemy of open competition than collusive, wealth-centered aristocracy. By comparison, the horrific reign of Soviet communism was a brief flash (and the "nomenklatura" caste in the USSR was arguably just another owner-conspiracy class). And today's libertarian obsession with civil servant "regulators" pathetically ignores the real enemy, across 40 centuries...

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