Ask a D.C. insider what’s the best way to solve the debt crisis. Nine times out of ten, they’ll recommend taking on more debt. That’s how things operate in the Potomac swamp. Up is down, right is left, digging yourself into more debt is the best way to get out of it. But it wasn’t always like this. In fact, there used to be common sense when it came to the economy. So where did it all go wrong?
Politicians talk about the uninsured. Special interests argue on behalf of those with pre-existing conditions. But why is no one wondering how doctors are affected by the new law? They’re the ones on the frontlines dealing directly with new patients, as well as the red tape that makes bureaucracies go round.
Politicians proclaim the benefits of small business while on the campaign trail. But when they meet in the seedy halls of Congress, they have no problem doing whatever they can to stifle, regulate, and subdue their progress. Instead of siding with entrepreneurs, these politicians often side with political allies and cronies that helped put them into office.
Just because you’re retired doesn’t mean you have to stop working. Especially now that you have all the time in the world to do what you really want. Entrepreneurs don’t only come out of Silicon Valley. They come from all walks of life, from all different ages. If you’re retired and want to stay active while you relax, then find out the steps you need to take in order to start, manage, and grow your next small business.
Austrian economics does more than tell you what happens when the government disturbs market forces. In the hands of knowledgeable investors and entrepreneurs, it can tell you exactly what to expect from the market. Market behavior depends on how people behave. And how people behave is central to the Austrian perspective.
The U.S. dollar has been the world's reserve currency for almost a century, and already there are signs it may be in decline. But that doesn't mean it's not still valuable. On the contrary... As Chris Mayer explains, there are many reasons the U.S. dollar will remain relevant on the world stage for years to come. Read on...
World War II might have dragged the country out of the Great Depression, but it did so at a great price. Central planning took center stage, and politicans and bureaucrats suddenly knew what was best for America, the economy, and your life. On top of that, they replaced the free market with a new economic system… Creditism.
If you’re good at something should you be penalized so others have a chance at success? Should award winning actors and actresses be barred from future Oscar ceremonies to give other men and women the chance to succeed? Success should always be rewarded and encouraged. But what happens when you have a government that wants to even the playing field and take away the spoils of success. Gregory Bresiger finds out...
Practical people often pooh-pooh fiction reading as a time wasting dalliance, dominated by a Marxist coloring of the world. However, fiction readers were given a scientific reason recently for spending hours absorbing fanciful figments of someone’s imagination.
Argentina is suffering the ravages of government debasement of the currency -- i.e., inflation, the process by which government pays for its ever-increasing debts and bills by simply printing more paper currency. The expanded money supply results in a lower value of everyone’s money, which is reflected in the rising prices of the things that money buys.
When government expansion is allowed to continue unabated or when it casts a heavy regulatory shadow on America’s entrepreneurial spirit, the freedoms that we’ve come to know, and perhaps take for granted, slowly begin to slip away.
Its acceptance is as widespread as its justification is important, for it provides the rationale for the Federal Reserve’s unprecedented monetary expansion since 2008. While critics may dispute the wealth effect’s magnitude, few have challenged its conceptual soundness. Such is the purpose of this article. The wealth effect is but a mantra without merit.
Baron Rothschild, the famous French financier, was once heard to say that he knew of only two men who really understood money -- an obscure clerk in the Bank of France and one of the directors of the Bank of England. “Unfortunately,” he added, “they disagree.”
The new reality of Obamacare’s tax credits has left finance reporters to pen articles warning readers to “take care” when considering a tax credit and providing strategies for how best to “protect yourself.” So what do finance reporters know that the White House doesn’t?
Nihilo ex nihilo fit. Out of nothing, nothing comes. First put forward by ancient Greek philosopher Parmenides in the fifth century B.C., Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine later used this axiom to prove that the universe needed a “first mover” to get things going. Even if the whole thing began with some kind of “Big Bang” moment, it still needed a banger to bang it. Who? God, of course.
Economic theories don’t lend themselves to laboratory testing, so the work of a national appraisal firm is especially enlightening. A new study lends support to the Austrian business cycle theory, which says that the less government is involved, the faster a market will recover.
What positive steps can we take? The energy that is now expended by well intentioned, freedom-seeking individuals on the destructive course of politics can be turned into powerful steps that will have a positive effect on the future. All are moral, right and just. None require aggressing. Consider the following...
The Affordable Care Act creates a new health insurance marketplace (the exchange). But because of the great uncertainty about what buyers will enter the market and who will buy what product, the law creates three vehicles to reduce insurance company risk.
Politicians and bureaucrats are notorious for manufacturing euphemisms -- clever but deceptive substitutes for what they really mean but don’t want to admit. That’s how the phrase “revenue enhancement” entered the vocabulary. Some of our courageous friends in government couldn’t bring themselves to say “tax hike.”
It’s easy to be negative about the U.S. economy these days. Find a glint of silver, and folks come running to point out all of the dark clouds looming about. This, of course, is what we got last week when the monthly jobs report was released from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Folks pooh-poohed the number of jobs and whining that they’re not enough or that it’s less than a bunch of economists thought that it might be. But you know what? Stuff ’em.
Facts are easy. You can check facts. What supporters of the Affordable Care Act are doing, on the other hand, transcends factual bungling. It’s far more advanced: a warping of reality so debauched it looks like something out of a tale by H.P. Lovecraft.
The east coast and parts of the southern U.S. were to varying degrees paralyzed by blizzards a few weeks ago. The snow as expected rendered the roads treacherous, and in anticipation of slick streets, shoppers flocked to the grocery stores in advance.The rush into grocery stores, and its aftermath, offers worthwhile lessons in economics.First up, […]
The highest form of charity, argued the 12th-century Jewish philosopher Maimonides, is when the help given enables the receiver to become self-sufficient.But our systems of state charity — aka welfare — have too frequently had the opposite effect: They have actually created dependency. It is time to rethink the way we help people.I’m going to […]
Last year was quite the year for Bitcoin. We’ve seen exponential growth in Bitcoin’s exchange rate and extensive coverage in the media. Another phenomenon we have witnessed is the proliferation of alternative cryptocurrencies, five of which we’ve provided below.What all of these cryptocurrencies have in common is that they rely on a decentralized network to […]
President Obama crowed in his State of the Union speech about the economy, even mentioning “a rebounding housing market.” Maybe he was referring to friends in high places, like the seller of Penthouse One in New York, which just closed for $50.9 million, all cash. Millions of mere-mortal homeowners likely wanted to throw something at […]
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is acting in a bipartisan way to cover up the biggest single threat to the bipartisan political alliance that is stripping America of its wealth: the United States Congress.There is no question that the following policy is bipartisan. Democrats and Republicans in Congress are completely agreed that the following information […]
Recent difficulties with implementing the Affordable Care Act have increased opposition to the program. A majority of Americans now oppose it. Problems with the HealthCare.gov website are in all likelihood temporary. However, there are serious long-term problems, particularly considering long-term finance and labor supply issues. Given the mounting difficulties with and growing concerns about the […]
Easy prediction: Congress will not cut spending. The hysteria in Washington is for naught, as usual. There will be no “austerity,” at least not the kind brought on by cuts in government. Nor will there be curbs on the Fed. Our credit-drenched, phoney-money culture would never stand for it.
But let’s just pretend that this fantasy did come true, for once. What would happen?
Try not to be intimidated by what the supposed experts say; rather, think about the following sentence using logic and critical intelligence: “Cutbacks in government spending… will eat into growth.” This statement of seeming ironclad truth was pushed in an editorial in The New York Times. It is without argument or evidence, but it presumes the truth of the “fiscal multiplier effect.”
Let us see. Incontrovertible truth: government has no resources of its own. Everything it has it takes from you and me or borrows. How does forcible extraction of private resources in the service of bigger bureaucracies and transfer payments cause new kinds of prosperity to come into existence? What you take, you have, but there is no turning stones into bread here.
It’s even worse than pure redistribution of wealth. It is actually destruction of wealth for government to rob and spend. This is because it is taking resources from highly valued uses to channel them into less-valuable uses. We know this because it would not happen absent the use of force. People’s preferences for the use of resources are being overridden.
How does that create or sustain prosperity? Of course, it doesn’t. If it did, there would be no economic problem to solve, no need for savings and investment, no need for risk taking or economic calculation of profit and loss. To create prosperity, you would need only unleash the looter state. Absurd.
In fact, the opposite is true. Cuts in government spending release resources from less-valued uses into more-valued uses. It puts wealth back into the hands of private parties, in which it can be saved and invested with economic rationality. The Keynesians have it exactly backward. Defunding bureaucracies and transfer payments provides new and productive funding for entrepreneurs and wealth creation in the private sector.
And hey, this isn’t just speculation. This is precisely what happened after World War II. FDR died and the political system went into full-scale upheaval. His successor, President Harry Truman, didn’t have his stride, a congressional election produced unexpected results, many wartime controls were allowed to expire and, for a variety of reasons, the wartime leviathan began to melt away.
David Henderson beautifully illustrates the point:
“In the four years from peak World War II spending in 1944 to 1948, the U.S. government cut spending by $72 billion — a 75% reduction. It brought federal spending down from a peak of 44% of gross national product (GNP) in 1944 to only 8.9% in 1948, a drop of over 35 percentage points of GNP.
“While government spending fell like a stone, federal tax revenues fell only a little, from a peak of $44.4 billion in 1945 to $39.7 billion in 1947 and $41.4 billion in 1948. In other words, from peak to trough, tax revenues fell by only $4.7 billion, or 10.6%. Yet the economy boomed. The unemployment rate, which was artificially low at the end of the war because many millions of workers had been drafted into the U.S. armed services, did increase. But during the years from 1945-48, it reached its peak at only 3.9% in 1946, and for the months from September 1945 to December 1948, the average unemployment rate was only 3.5%.”
I was just yesterday listening to Paul Krugman (debating Ron Paul) explain that it was Keynesian economics that gave rise to the economic boom in the United States following the Second World War. This is the kind of claim that causes the jaw to drop to the floor. Ron correctly responded that it was the spending and tax cuts, with the release of controls, that did that. In fact, the Keynesians at the time predicted complete disaster just when the very opposite happened.
Paul Samuelson, the leading American Keynesian, warned against dismantling wartime planning. He wrote in 1943 that such a plan would usher “in the greatest period of unemployment and industrial dislocation which any economy has ever faced.”
This was his prediction. Of course, the exact opposite occurred!
The most-spectacular thing concerns the reabsorption of military workers into civilian life. More than 10 million people who might have been unemployed found work. This was a readjustment that hardly anyone expected, and a fantastic tribute to the capacity of the market economy to deliver seeming miracles that defy all the predictions of disaster.
Again, Henderson writes:
“Indeed, in just the 11-month period between August 1945 and July 1946, the number of people in the U.S. military fell from 12 million to 2.7 million, a drop of 9.3 million. Over those same 11 months, civilian employment grew from 53.6 million to 57.8 million, an increase of 4.2 million people. The number of unemployed people did increase, rising from 0.8 million to 2.3 million, but with a civilian labor force of 60.1 million, the 2.3 million unemployed people implied an unemployment rate of only 3.8%.”
Remarkable, isn’t it? Look at our current labor problems. They are incomparable. And we are living through an astounding technological boom that should have created a brilliant market for workers in all sectors. Instead, with the Keynesians in charge, we have persistent unemployment and falling labor participation! They keep being shown wrong, and yet they have no shame and continue to claim to have been right.
Given this history, the prescription for our current troubles reverses all the conventional wisdom. Cut government spending dramatically. Cut taxes. Get rid of regulations and controls. In sum, free the economy! You can say it and prove it ten thousand times, but it makes no difference. A convinced Keynesian is a tough nut to crack.