In 2011, one hedge fund manager bought twenty million nickels. Today, all across the U.S., Americans have stacks and stacks of nickels in their basements. What’s going on? And why should you be concerned? Chris Campbell investigates. Read on…
Ready to have your fortune told? Chris Campbell invites the Laissez Faire crew to give their most shocking predictions for 2015. Each one could affect your health, wealth, and happiness. Read on...
If hyperinflation were going to happen in the U.S., it already would have, right? Wrong. Jim Rickards explains the clear reason why the U.S. hasn’t seen hyperinflation… and why it’s still more than possible. Read on…
Something strange and unexplainable happened to Chris Campbell last night. “In the middle of the night,” he writes. “Precisely when things shouldn’t happen. Especially not things like this.” This inexplicable event led him to uncover the most lucrative wealth strategy known to man. So it wasn’t all a wash. Read on…
Are you a deflationist? Or an inflationist? No matter which way you believe the wind will blow, the truth is this: it’s up in the air. But, as Jim Rickards explains, there are things you can do to cover your assets, no matter which one wins the tug-of-war. Read on…
Everyday Americans have good reason to celebrate and fear the recent collapse in oil prices. This is the fastest, steepest decline in oil prices since the mid-1980s. Results are already showing up at the gas pump. The price of regular gasoline has collapsed from almost $4.00 a gallon to $1.99 a gallon in some places. For a driver who uses 50 gallons per week, that’s an extra $100 per week in your pocket. If that new low price sticks, the savings keep coming, and it adds up to a $5,000 per year raise. Best of all, the government can’t tax that $5,000. If you got a pay raise, they would tax it, but if the cost of things you buy is lower, they can’t tax the savings. What’s not to like? Read on to find out.
Smart meters are supposed to be our saving grace. Reduce pollution… reduce blackouts… and keep you and your family safe. The truth, though, is the exact opposite. What’s the true agenda behind smart meters? And why are you being lied to? Read on…
You hear a lot about gold these days. But what about silver? Chris Campbell speaks out about the moon metal with one shocking confession. Read on…
Markets have you spooked? You’re not the only one. In today’s Laissez Faire Today, you’ll hear from three market experts on how to stay safe, no matter what direction the overall market heads. Read on…
Savvy investors: Two experts weigh in on why having your own personal gold standard… and betting that Ebola will get worse… could be your best investment decisions of 2014. Read on…
In December last year, a lot of people were laughing off an inept thief. Not only did Charles Jennings, a cargo worker, quickly get caught — but his $1.5 million haul was snicker-worthy. Who’d want his product? How on earth could he sell the 7,500 pieces — or move them anywhere near that $1.5 million retail price tag? How dumb could he be? Here’s the thing — all the people snickering don’t know what they’re talking about. The $1.5 million stash? On the open market, it could easily be worth twice that. Heck — it could be worth 10 times as much or more. And moving it would be easy.
America has about 4% of the world’s population, yet houses 25% of the world’s incarcerated. What’s going on here? Chris Campbell digs deep into the industry to figure out the truth. While many blame the private prison industry, the real culprit, says Chris, begins right outside your door. Read on…
Bitcoin has been pretty quiet lately. But that doesn’t mean big things aren’t taking place behind-the-scenes for the digital currency. In today’s Laissez Faire Today, Chris Campbell pulls back the curtain and shows you how Bitcoin is quietly slipping into the mainstream. He also shows you why now could be the time to buy now, or forever hold your peace. Read on…
Want to get rich? Don’t listen to financial “gurus,” says Chris Campbell. In today’s Laissez Faire Today, Chris shares a Zen proverb and shows how understanding it is the only real way to get rich (and live a rich life). Read on…
Ben Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In today’s Laissez Faire Today, you’ll learn about one FREE website that has the potential to not only keep your family safe – but also open your eyes to what’s happening in your own neighborhood. Chris Campbell has all the details. Read on…
Among red wines, two varietals are often latched onto by certain enthusiasts. “I only drink cabs,” or, “I only drink pinots.” Such statements are common surrounding these wines. Pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon: two wines with very different bodies, styles and flavor profiles. In my experience, those who “only” drink one usually cannot relate to those who “only” drink the other. The Hatfields and the McCoys of the wine drinking world.
All over the world, power is dying. The dictators and tyrants of the world are no longer able to wield it like they once used to. And they’re losing it to the “little guy.” Chris Campbell shows you how to be the king of your castle by taking advantage of this fact. Today, you’ll learn how to grab “power gaps” in the market and channel them into your product idea or project. Read on…
The fireflies along the tidal rivers of Malaysia show "feats of synchrony that occur spontaneously, almost as if nature has an eerie yearning for order." Chris Campbell tells you where else this might occur in the world. Also, new technology may revolutionize the agriculture industry and what we think of as a farm.
Jeff Davis is running for Governor in Hawaii and has an interesting campaign strategy. Also, what motivates hackers is revealed and the findings might surprise you. Finally, Ferguson is discussed in a new light. Chris Campbell has more...
The so-called recovery is only built on debt and printed cash declares our own Byron King. In the long term, the only option for the government to continue financing it's operations is to print too many dollars. Money printing has it's limits, however. It's Byron's opinion that at some point, perhaps very soon, the government will have to turn to more desperate measures. Namely, capital controls. In the following featured essay, Byron outlines 4 probably ways the government will take your cash and one play you can buy through your broker to prepare today. Read on...
Last month, when renewing our health insurance, our carrier screwed up, leaving the entire Hill family without dental coverage... Their incompetence, however, opened our eyes to burgeoning alternatives in the health care space. To be specific, we were able to save $88 on our recent dental visit despite not having insurance. And it was all thanks to a little slip of paper that took us five minutes to acquire and cost us nothing.
When’s the best time to invest in something? When everyone else is trying to get their money out of it. It might go against conventional thinking, but following the crowd usually makes you miss the real opportunities. At one monetary metal conference recently, the smartest guys in the industry sat down to discuss where these real hidden gems lay.
In a 2009 article, the Huffington Post went into considerable detail about the number of people with PhD degrees in economics employed by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. This is the government’s branch of the Federal Reserve. It is not one of the 12 regional Federal Reserve banks, all of which […]
Greetings from Maine! Right now, I’m writing from within foghorn distance of the sea. And this gives me an opportunity to tell you a down east tale that should serve as a warning to every investor: Maine’s Great Gold Swindle.I’m not talking about central banks, or manipulation of today’s markets. I’m talking about something from […]
The U.S. dollar is the dominant global reserve currency. All markets, including stocks, bonds, commodities, and foreign exchange are affected by the value of the dollar.The value of the dollar, in effect, its “price” is determined by interest rates. When the Federal Reserve manipulates interest rates, it is manipulating, and therefore distorting, every market in […]
What’s the single biggest health problem in America? Note that I’m not asking about the most widespread disease. Instead, I’m inquiring about the specific health problem that the largest number of Americans would most dearly love to solve.
Let’s head back in time…In 2004, a mere decade ago, the US national debt rang the register at $7.4 trillion. That represents “debt per citizen” of over $25,000. You, me, your neighbor, your 4-yr old grandson, you name it and they’re portion of the U.S. debt is $25k.But flash forward to today and you’ll see […]
Alexander Hamilton was America’s first Secretary of Treasury under President George Washington. When he first entered office in 1789, America was an agricultural nation of just 4 million still broke from its financially costly victory over the British Empire in the Revolutionary War.The states had accumulated relatively massive debts to finance that war, which mostly […]
Remember that correction we’ve been quietly talking about over the past couple of months?Well, it might be right around the corner. Stocks waited until the last day of the month to nose-dive. The S&P 500 posted its first 2% down day since April — and the Dow wasn’t far behind. Early this morning, futures continue […]
A great technology solves a problem that we didn’t know we had. It makes us aware of deprivations we didn’t know existed until we discover the new thing. Once discovered, we can’t go back.People in the 1950s, for example, never missed the smart phone. They were pleased to have a phone at all. But today, […]
For the last few decades, virtually everyone seems to have agreed that eating beef is a bad idea: bad for the planet, bad for personal health, and bad morally. The problem? Beef haters are wrong on all counts. Beef can be a boon for the planet, extraordinarily healthful, and a highly moral choice.
In early July 1944, delegates from 44 countries gathered at the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. A three-week summit took place, at which a new system was agreed to regulate the international monetary and financial order after the Second World War.The U.S. was already the world’s commercial powerhouse, having eclipsed the British […]
When you type a website address into a browser, you might have noticed that the letters “http” appear at the front. “HTTP” stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. In typing a Web address, you are actually sending an HTTP command to transmit that website to you. Hypertext Transfer Protocol is the means by which information is […]
Politicians — elected officials — are street smart rather than book smart.
If you care about influencing government policy it helps to know how they think.
Forbes contributor Nathan Lewis argues that:
“Too much is done today on the oral tradition. That is, literally, what it is. In this post-Gutenberg age, we have some better alternatives.
“Thus, we need what I call the ‘shelf of books,’ from different authors. It doesn’t have to be a big shelf. About twelve good books, recently written, would be enough.
“They can’t be old books and they can’t be books filled with economic fallacy. …
“The American Principles Project, which I call the ‘Tea Party’s think tank,’ has just released two white papers about monetary reform…
“Lewis Lehrman has just finished his most recent book on the topic, which was available in short-format form last year. That makes two books on our shelf. Great.
“I hear that George Gilder, who released the influential Wealth and Poverty in 1981, has gained a growing appreciation for the importance of monetary reform. Maybe Gilder will put his excellent research and communication skills to work and produce a new work on the topic.”
Nathan Lewis and I agree that more books will be useful to the restoration of the gold standard.
We get there, however, through different paths of thought.
This columnist, unlike Nathan Lewis, spends a great deal of time on Capitol Hill talking with legislators and their key aides. Few legislators, or legislative aides, have the luxury of reading many books. This is not due to a lack of intellect. Most elected officials and their advisors are very smart.
Nor is this due to a lack of intellectual curiosity. Those who serve in the legislative branch tend to be imbued with practical curiosity.
When time permits they love to read, and read sophisticated works. The editor of one of most influential magazines in Washington privately reported, about a year ago, encountering Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), chairman of the Congressional Joint Economic Committee, reading Lewis E. Lehrman’s The True Gold Standard on the Acela train from DC to New York City.
Yet because legislators are inundated with inputs — from constituents, the media, trade associations, leadership, colleagues, donors and others — their decision-making primarily is based on a sophisticated process known as “heuristics.” Wikipedia defines heuristics as:
“Where the exhaustive search is impractical, heuristic methods are used to speed up the process of finding a satisfactory solution via mental shortcuts to ease the cognitive load of making a decision. Examples of this method include using a rule of thumb, an educated guess, an intuitive judgment, stereotyping, or common sense.”
Heuristics is a process we all use. We may not always quite know the name of a candidate. Yet we recognize her party affiliation… and vote accordingly. That’s heuristics.
Legislators, by necessity, rely on this even more heavily than most of us. It serves them well. They can with good confidence rely, for the most part, on the refined judgment of trusted authorities. What Lewis dismisses as “the oral tradition” is a manifestation of a sophisticated reliance on heuristics.
Nevertheless, Lewis’s call for a “small shelf of books” is well founded. Books give their writers, and readers, a chance to think through issues in depth. They add a measure of prestige and authority to their authors. When a Congressperson knows that the source of a legislative proposal derives from a book both the author and the idea gain — heuristically — some added credibility.
Credibility matters. This is a sad era where America understandably feels (because it was) lied to by its president. Yet the gold standard of both politics and governance is credibility. Voters, on balance, are not persistently credulous.
Nathan Lewis, PI (Public Intellectual) publicly yearns — as do all public intellectuals — for our legislators to decide by Deep Thought. The evidence argues that policy decisions almost exclusively are made based on how sensible — as in common sense — policy recommendations appear and how credible the officials deem the source. This is an exercise in heuristics, not “oral tradition.”
That does not vitiate Lewis’s fundamental desire for a “shelf of books.” It simply shifts the nature of the influence of books among official policy makers. For example, books help persuade other intellectuals, which helps to persuade policy institutes, which help to persuade officials.
2013 was the richest year in recent memory for the publication of books about the gold standard. Lest the gold standard seem like an unreachable goal, let it be noted that Paul Krugman, in his Dec. 22, 2013 New York Times column observes that “What’s really happening [in the policy discourse] is a determined march to the days when money meant stuff you could jingle in your purse.”
“Stuff you could jingle” of course is Krugman’s merry anathema — counterfactual, as is standard on this subject with Krugman — for the gold standard.
But Prof. Krugman is not wrong about the “determined march” — a march that clearly is gaining real traction. This is very much to Krugman’s dismay. Alluding to the fountainhead of faith-based economics, John Maynard Keynes, Krugman calls the gold standard, which he clearly does not comprehend, “barbarism.”
The march continues, determined. There is nothing remotely barbaric about the classical gold standard as this year’s crop of books elegantly demonstrates. Thus a valuable additional pillar of support for the gold standard is being secured.
Nathan Lewis himself has contributed one of these books, Gold: The Monetary Polaris, called by John Tamny “a monetary policy masterpiece of a book that everyone should read.” Tamny concludes: “This is easily the most important book of 2013, arguably the most important economics book in a long time, and the best book on money that’s yet been written.” This columnist considers Gold: The Monetary Polaris an invaluable resource.
Of even greater value, in this columnist’s view, for 2013 were Constitutional Money: A Review of the Supreme Court’s Monetary Decisions by Richard Timberlake, Money, Gold, and History by Lewis E. Lehrman, and Knowledge and Power by George Gilder — each of which were the subject of 2013 presentations at the Cato Institute. Cato increasingly and justifiably is an influential voice for economic policy on Capitol Hill.
The authors of these works have attained a certain iconic status: Timberlake, at age 91, the dean of free banking economists, has created an indispensable classic in constitutional monetary studies, one published by Cambridge University Press. Lehrman (with the Institute which he founded and chairs this writer has a professional association), as the Reagan Gold Commissioner and champion of a modern classical gold standard. And Gilder, as the living author most cited in speeches by President Reagan.
This columnist reviewed Gilder’s Knowledge and Power — praising its powerful contribution to the discourse of bringing information theory to bear on the gold standard; and reported on the Cato debut of Money, Gold, and History — broadcast by C-SPAN — as “a Velvet Underground Event.”
Money, Gold, and History is a worthy companion volume to Lehrman’s immediately preceding work, The True Gold Standard welcomed by Nathan Lewis, its author praised in an Amazon review by iconic financier Barton Biggs as “the most profound monetary thinker of our time.”
In addition, Dr. Judy Shelton, of Atlas Economic Research Foundation, has provided a splendid new edition of Jefferson’s Notes on the Establishment of A Monetary Unit, both in facsimile and text, with a brilliant introduction by the author herself. The text of Jefferson’s notes previously was readily available only in virtual format from the invaluable archive maintained by Liberty Fund. Dr. Shelton’s introduction observes:
“In the context of Jefferson’s life and times, it’s important to understand that the value of money was scarcely distinguishable from the money itself. Gold and silver coins provided the common media of exchange: their worth was largely intrinsic, subject primarily to the quantity and purity of the metal they contained. … Jefferson deferentially refers to the assays of foreign coins performed by Sir Isaac Newton in 1717 (when Newton was Master of the Royal Mint)…. As an aside, the fact that Jefferson mentions Newton not just once, but four times, in this fairly short document gives some indication of the esteem he held for the renowned scientist. In a 1789 letter, Jefferson praised Francis Bacon, John Locke, and Isaac Newton as ‘the three greatest men that have ever lived, without exception’ and kept portraits of them at Monticello…”
Last year also saw the first readily available English language edition, published by Laissez Faire Books, of Copernicus’s Essay on Money translated from the Latin by classicist Prof. Gerald Malsbary, co-edited by this columnist and by Charles Kadlec. Its introduction observes:
“The classical gold standard has a more profound pedigree than many know.
“It is fairly widely understood that the classical gold standard originally was designed, in 1717, by Sir Isaac Newton, then master of the mint of Great Britain. It lasted for two centuries, and it is an irony of history that John Law’s notorious experiment with paper money, which ruined his investors, France, and himself and lasted but three years, was initiated in the same year.
“The fact of Newton’s role as architect alone would provide the gold standard with a most dignified intellectual provenance. Now comes a new, meticulously researched, and lucidly devised translation by classicist Gerald Malsbary ….
“Through this translation, scholars, intellectuals, and policy makers readily will be able to discern that the fundamental intellectual groundwork for the classical gold standard was laid by another scientific icon, Nicolas Copernicus. Yes, Copernicus, the very same who placed the sun in the center of the solar system.
“Prof. Malsbary’s translation shows Copernicus’s widely overlooked tract On the Minting of Money as no more dated than heliocentricity, contemporary and as lucid as anything ever written on monetary policy.”
Good books. Still, the most perceptive statement on the logic of lawmaking on record may be that by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. His famous lecture at the Lowell Institute, published in his classic work The Common Law, states:
“The life of the law has not been logic: it has been experience. The felt necessities of the time, the prevalent moral and political theories, intuitions of public policy, avowed or unconscious, even the prejudices which judges share with their fellow-men, have had a good deal more to do than the syllogism in determining the rules by which men should be governed. The law embodies the story of a nation’s development through many centuries, and it cannot be dealt with as if it contained only the axioms and corollaries of a book of mathematics.”
“The life of the law has not been logic: it has been experience.” This is, of course, a more eloquent way of saying that politicians — our legislators — our lawmakers — and their aides primarily, and justifiably, rely upon heuristics. Street smarts not book smarts.
Meanwhile, all to the good, Nathan Lewis’s desire for “About twelve good books, recently written” — even if one excludes Jefferson and Copernicus as “not recently written” — is well under way to fulfillment. The gold standard makes street sense and book sense both.
— Ralph Benko
This article originally appeared here on Forbes.com.