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, […]
Fifty years after the 1929 crash, a group of money managers and investment thinkers put together a collection of essays looking back at that experience. The result was a distillation of some pretty fine investment wisdom. Timely, I think, to review now.One of the contributors was Arthur Zeikel, then with Merrill Lynch. The title of […]
Although the mainstream media have turned its attention away from the wreckage of Obamacare, don’t think for a second that all is well.As the politicos in D.C. focus their attention on the midterm elections in November, now is a great time to study, prepare, and seek out the most affordable, accessible, and highest quality options […]
Turn on the tube and economic ignorance seems to be everywhere. There is constant shilling for more government. Business is demonized. Man is said to be trashing the environment. “Workers and women are oppressed” is the constant mantra.And members of the clueless media nod their heads in unison.Only John Stossel has provided the fresh air […]
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 […]
In the minds of many people around the world, including in the United States, the term “capitalism” carries the idea of unfairness, exploitation, undeserved privilege and power, and immoral profit making. What is often difficult to get people to understand is that this misplaced conception of “capitalism” has nothing to do with real free markets […]
Some people are saying it is just what the doctor ordered. Others are saying that the cure is worse than the disease.The Affordable Care Act? Reengagement in Iraq? Tea Party bullying in the GOP?Not this time. Just as protracted in the corridors of Congress and the White House is the debate over the proposed reform […]
In 2012, money mandarins running the European Union chose stagnation over restructuring. Here’s a consequence of that choice: expectations for a self-sustaining economic recovery keep getting crushed.Two years ago, European Central Bank (ECB) chief Mario Draghi promised to do “whatever it takes” to hold the eurozone together. He bluffed nervous investors into believing in a […]
People jacked up about income inequality can find a new hobby. The 1% are victims of a doomsday machine, and the countdown is ticking. Machine, thy name is “family.”This came to mind as I was reading a preview of Columbia Professor Andrew Ang’s forthcoming, must-read book on Asset Management. Ang is that oxymoron, an exciting […]
It might sound like the latest new product from Apple, but IPAB is actually the newest major legal challenge to Obamacare.Recently, a three-judge panel in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco heard arguments about the Independent Payment Advisory Board, or IPAB, a 15-member panel created by the Affordable Care Act and empowered […]
Americans have come to believe that the IRS and the income tax are inevitable parts of our lives. After all, most everyone alive today has lived his entire life under federal income taxation.It wasn’t always that way. For some 125 years, the American people lived without having any tax imposed upon their income.The obvious question […]
Here’s a fun fact: Although we all hate the U.S. dollar, as it continues to hemorrhage wealth, its foothold as the world’s reserve currency isn’t going to disappear overnight.A Russian gas deal with China won’t change that — as we’ll highlight below.But before we get to the nitty-gritty, let’s dive into a story that’s right […]
Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously used the term “forgotten man” in a 1932 speech to describe those at the bottom of the economic pyramid who, he felt, government should aid.But the originator of the phrase “forgotten man” had a whole different meaning in mind. He aimed to expose the seeming good intentions of government to reveal […]
The Keynesian disaster recovery plan has been to lower rates, force people to take more risk in search of yield, and entice others to borrow and spend and, magically, more jobs will be created. If people won’t buy stocks, central banks will.Back in 2011, Ben Bernanke, when asked if QE2 was driving up stock prices, […]
I want to share some insight and give you a front-row seat to America’s next big shale play.Let’s get to it…Over the past 10 years, the U.S. has turned the ship around, quite literally.We’ve gone from a country that was expecting to import massive amounts of oil and gas — to a country that’s sitting […]
Whatever your views on the role of government, one thing is clear: There will be no way to pay for it if the economy doesn’t grow. And I’m not talking by a measly percentage point or two. If we can’t find our way back to 5% annual economic growth or above soon, America’s accumulated federal […]
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, consumer prices are rising at a 2.1% annual rate. This suggests to us that the current stock market boom will die with a bang, rather than a whimper.Fed economists say they don’t think inflation rates are rising. They think the most recent reading is a fluke. But why […]
Politicians love raising the minimum wage because they don’t have to ask voters to pay more in taxes. They just dump the costs onto shop owners. But they don’t act like politicians and go into debt to pretend like they have all the money in the world. They face real world situations. And sometimes that means replacing workers with more affordable options...
Regulation is supposed to keep you safe and make the economy function smoothly. At least that’s what they tell you in the news. But there’s another cost to regulation. One that you won’t hear about unless you have to deal with directly. And for the people in the economy who do, they’re the ones who have to pay the final cost.
The experts will tell you the recession is over, but they’re only torturing the data to hide the truth. The economy never recovered from the downturn it experienced. But the downturn happened in 2000, not 2008. The country’s been in the middle of a 14 year recession and hardly anyone knows the truth.
Every time Bitcoin crashes, it winds up at a price greater than it’s previous high. Yet the experts still call it a currency fad that will fade away. But a little over a year since it really took up, the digital currency is still going strong, and is once again seeing its price rise. But is there another reason why people are buying Bitcoins.
All paper currency has a shelf life. It could be 5 years or 500 years, but at some point, the value of any paper currency eventually reaches zero. That's why, for centuries, people have turned to one shiny metal to safeguard their personal store of wealth. And, as Jim Rickards explains, you still have that option. Read on...
According to some estimates, one man - whose name you're probably not familiar with - has saved over a billion lives. Who is he? And how has he influenced the current crop of innovators? Josh Grasmick explains...
It’s a destructive cycle that comes around everytime your politicians ask you to take to the polls. The government’s meddling creates unexpected problems that eventually overshadow the planners’ original intentions. But that only leads the way for even more interventions.
Politicians love inflation. It’s a way to pay for the government’s debts without upsetting the public by raising taxes, or their special interests by cutting government. So they’ll flood the economy with easy money and eat away at your savings. But that’s only part of the story...
You can count the number of people who went to jail over the 2008 financial crisis on one hand. Which is strange considering the U.S. loves to put people away in jail. But as one author discovered in his most recent book, having the right connections and a big enough bank account, can protect you from even the worst crimes.
Obama recently claimed this was the “Decade of the Brain”. But it not the first time the government made that promise. The last time they did it, they wasted millions of your tax dollars. Now they’re back for round two. But this time, their failure could mean more than squandered money. It could mean making Alzheimer’s even worse for those who suffer from it.
For many people around the world, the first they had ever heard of the great economist Friedrich A. Hayek came from a rap video. That’s right. Some 3.4 million people have watched “Fear the Boom and Bust” since its release two years ago. It has been shown in classrooms and been featured in countless stories on economics.
This video did more than just educate people on the alternative to Keynesian-style macroeconomic policy of which only a small number had been previously aware. It shocked free-market advocates out of their stupor and made them realize they had to do more than write thick treatises that sit on library shelves to get their message out.
This video made economics interesting and dramatic. It took an intellectual battle that had being going on behind the scenes for nearly 100 years and put it into contemporary imagery. The lyrics were not only clever and intelligent; they were accurate as regards the theories of Hayek and Keynes.
Then there was a follow-up last year: “Fight of the Century.” It already has 1.7 million views, and many people think it is even better than the first one (both videos have their strengths, in my view). Then there have been hundreds of media appearances, thousands of stories and blogs, spinoffs and public debates. Several books have come out on the topic.
You can see here the way ideas work to change the ideological landscape. It is now widely understood that there is another side to the issue — a point few understood in the days of FDR’s “fireside chats” or Walter Cronkite’s nightly instructions on what Washington wanted us to think.
Today, not even mainstream journalists can write about the topic of countercyclical policy and economic stabilization without acknowledging another side to the debate. And this new awareness is leading people to truth that has otherwise been suppressed.
Hayek himself would have been overjoyed. He wrote that liberty is doomed unless we “can make the philosophic foundations of a free society once more a living intellectual issue, and its implementation a task that challenges the ingenuity and imagination of our liveliest minds.” (Emphasis mine.)
The minds behind the videos: economics professor Russell Roberts (who has specialized in finding new ways, such as novels and podcasts, to get the word out) and media genius John Papola. I’m focusing on Papola here because he gets the least attention of this duo, and it has been my pleasure to get to know him personally and interview him on several occasions.
Of course, I’m pleased as can be than John wrote the long and thoughtful introduction to Laissez Faire Books’ new edition of Hayek’s outstanding compilation, A Tiger By the Tail. It is available in a fabulous softcover edition or e-book. Or you can get both for free by joining the Laissez Faire Club, which provides an unrelenting stream of digital bling.
John’s background is in media, having done outstanding work for Spike TV, Nickelodeon and MTV. Then in 2006, he watched the PBS documentary Commanding Heights. He caught the economics bug. He realized that the science of economics holds the secret to the rise and decline of societies, the answer to so many of our cultural problems, the crucible that determines whether we thrive or die as a people.
He could have stopped there, but — as he explains in this introduction — he continued his studies and found his way toward a truth that goes beyond the choices we are presented in current political debates. He realized that contrary to conventional wisdom, neither Reagan nor Thatcher represented some kind of free-market ideal. There are more foundational issues in play than any political party represents.
He set out on a gigantic, and even obsessive, reading plan that took him through the works of the Austrian School economists from a century ago to the present. It was a heady intellectual journey that ended up causing a dramatic vocational change in his life. He decided to use his skills and talents to advancing the cause. He would do it not by merely propounding doctrine, but through civil, creative and imaginative means, just as Hayek has suggested. He was pushing ideas that were otherwise ignored.
The most-conspicuous results of his intellectual journey are the two rap videos. He worked with Roberts to create fabulous rhyming couplets and memorable phrases that have changed the way free-market advocates talk about the issues. If you spend some time with him, you can observe his talent for this at work. I swear that he can make a great rhyme out of anything. It is dazzling just to hear him think out loud.
Here are two of the most-famous passages from the second video, put into the mouth of Hayek:
The economy’s not a car, there’s no engine to stall,
No expert can fix it, there’s no “it” at all.
The economy’s us, we don’t need a mechanic,
Put away the wrenches, the economy’s organic.
We need stable rules and real market prices
So prosperity emerges and cuts short the crisis.
Give us a chance so we can discover
The most valuable ways to serve one another.
Just reading those last two lines absolutely warms my heart. This is the language of genuine liberalism. This is the great truth of the market that has been so long suppressed. The second video in particular makes heavy use of the notion that we face a choice between a society organized top down or bottom up. That’s it exactly, a fantastic summary of what liberal minds have been saying for centuries, finally given to us in an easy-to-understand image.
What his introduction to A Tiger by the Tail reveals is that John Papola is not just a media genius. He is also a first-class intellectual. He discusses the history of thought here, along with the misuse of economic metaphors, capital theory, banking institutions, the role of prices and entrepreneurship, interest rates and the role of money. He places special emphasis on the issue of “Say’s law,” which Keynes claimed to have refuted, but which still stands as the theoretical bulwark of the market’s capacity for self-management.
His essay, which stretches to 5,000 words, is a veritable primer on Hayek and the Austrian School. Of course, he ends with a few rhyming couplets. What a performance! As Hayek would observe, this is the way to use ingenuity and imagination to make economics and liberty living intellectual issues.