Showing posts with label The Tinkerbelle Economy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Tinkerbelle Economy. Show all posts

Feb 17, 2016

Penny for your thoughts, but do you take MasterCard?

I've been using plastic for a while. It returns a couple-three percentage points on money I'd spend anyway. I avoid the heartbreak of possible "late fees" by automatic draft pre-payments, maintaining a credit balance just over estimated expenses. It's one way to ease -- however damned slightly -- the Yellin pain of zero per cent return on savings.

So what, Jim? 

So this. About every two weeks a charge for exactly $18.08 at a local liquor store shows up. Meaning that somewhere in Washington, a snoop knows I'm a drunk -- worse than a drunk, a cheap drunk, probably babbling from an overload of  1.5 liter jugs of Three Feathers blended whiskey  (guaranteed aged in containers for several weeks!).

It might be just what the feds need to hustle me off to jail for typing under the influence, resulting in  subversion --  antigovernment agitation with intent to mock.

And I might not even be able to prove the truth. In fact the $18.08 buys about two weeks worth of tobacco, and please don't tell Michelle or the surgeon general.


It has become feasible to  live your entire financial life electronically, to never touch a coin or a note.

(Humming) Three Coins in the Fountain..." 

Oh, hello, officer.

You're Busted. You hearts wanna be seeking happiness, swipe your cards at that there kiosk machine.

Then President Obama knows you were fooling around with a bimbo in Rome instead of negotiating that deal for a cargo of pimple cream in Sardinia like you told your wife, and if you make him mad he can tell her.


It's about the war on cash, of course, the exchange medium which permits a citizen to exercise a little of whatever privacy remains in a world gone mad with surveillance. Put a pack of Trojans and a copy of  Esquire on your card and you've given any government cop with a sympathetic judge enough to peg you as a sex maniac and, therefore,  probably hot for trafficked humans. Charge a Colt 1873  at an antique sale and get on the no-fly list.

The latest comes to us from Europe where the central bank has just snuffed the 500-Euro note because -- it says -- Bin Laden used them.  (So do, I'll bet, European Central Bank bigwigs when they are fooling around with Roman bimbos, but that's beside the point.)

Enter the United States of America and one of its leading gadabout economists, Larry Summers, the guy who almost became secretary of the treasury under Obama and is undoubtedly on the Hillary and Bernie short lists for the same job.

He wants to kill the $100 Federal Reserve Cartoon because bad guys like drug dealers  use them. And what a brilliant idea based on astute observation, there, Larry. I can't imagine Jalisco Cartello, in Tijuana to make a buy, would ever think to fill two brief cases with 50s when it becomes illegal to have one brief case with 100s.

'course, then you can outlaw 50s, then 20s, etc., then, presto! 24/7/365 Mr. Orwell's Telescreen is in your wallet.

Sep 24, 2015

Yogi Berra, free-market economist

Awwww. Yogi died yesterday. We'll miss his wisdom, particularly on Janet Yellin and the free-money Fed.

"A nickel ain't worth a dime any more."

RIP, Yogi.

Sep 17, 2015

Fed Wanks

If you like semi-artificial excitement, this has been an excellent week to read the financial press carefully. The American central bank will pop off a quarter-point interest rate increase this afternoon, or it won't.

More expert words than we can count with a Cray have been expended on predicting one result or the other. Closer to the real world -- but in fact not very close at all -- more money than you and I could possibly imagine has been gambled.

As a public service I offer my own conclusion, to wit, I don't know how Janet Yellin will massage the Federal Funds Rate at 2 p.m. today, and I have arranged my investments accordingly by doing nothing.  The inaction is based partly on fear of being wrong and losing  capital, probably enough of my hard-won savings to pay for  a day or two of Janet's fresh-squeezed orange juice served by a smiling civil servant in a starched white jacket.

And also partly by general disgust that our official medium of exchange still has no objective value beyond the promises of politicians and the guesses of tea-leaf readers  who happen to work at the Federal Reserve building rather than on the carnival  midway.

Aug 26, 2015

Well, that didn't last long

The big rich became the poorer-yet in the last minutes of NYSE trading yesterday. My panel of experts blames it on the Chinese again. Until lunch time on Wall Street everything was giddy, then some spoil sport said he thought the Peking didn't invent new money fast enough. And down we go because still not liquid enough.

To make matters worse, no one was really biting the bait about Janet and the Feds cooling down on their (maybe) planned quarter-per cent rate hike next month. It was dangled from all the docks,  but her worm just floated there, ignored.

We're trying again this morning as the cheery stock thugs  bid the Dow up about 350 points. Who knows?

Actually, maybe Peter Schiff (he's one of Us) knows. I think that, informally over a nice martini, he would advise putting your investment money into blue steel and walnut.

Aug 25, 2015


...stop all that cheering and clapping. Such constant adulation makes me uncomfortable.


It's the headline for the AP lead story this morning. The Dow (futures) is up c. 600.

Aug 24, 2015

Chicken Little

I haven't fully digested the past four days of stock market Armageddon -- a fancy way of reporting that,  whatever I say,  I am not  at all confident that I know what the Hell I am talking about.

But I want to get something out early, before the markets open this morning so that, if I'm right,  I can claim vast powers of economic analysis.

It is this: The recent stock market losses come to about 10 per cent, (give or take because economics is the only discipline I can think of this morning where arithmetic is not an exact science). Ten per cent  amounts to an awful lot of money, enough to ulcerize most everyone, from the 1 per centers down to the poor slob who bet some rent money on the rosy Wall Street chatter of a few months ago.

My prediction: The panic will continue until the central banks announce, or strongly hint, that problem is simply liquidity, a problem they can easily solve by printing more money. My prognosticated time line runs from right now until the Gnomes of Everywhere have had several three-martini lunches.

When they do so, all the world will sigh, giggle, and start pouring all that fresh cash back into Amalgamated Phuckall, Inc.  and its corporate kin. APA will rise again, and the three-piece suiters  will resume strutting  and crowing about the conquests of their big swinging dicks.

So, that's just the latest of Jim's hard-money rants, right?

Maybe. Maybe not.

There's a guy named James Grant who is reputedly an expert on money and markets. Three months ago he weighed in on central banks, especially their mania for fiat trillions. The article is worth a read, but the nut is here, in a quotation going back a century and a half. Grant writes:

Walter Bagehot, a wonderful Victorian journalist who served in the 1860s and 70s as the editor of The Economist, once said that John Bull — the proverbial personification of Great Britain — can stand anything, but he can’t stand two percent. Meaning very low interest rates. Why? Because they instigate a lot of unwise speculation and a lot of misallocation of resources: people who find that money costs nothing to borrow do silly things with it. And when Bagehot said that, he meant positive two percent. In Denmark, for example, they now pay you to borrow and you pay them to save.

John Bull, Janet Yellin's Fed, the European banker/bureaucrats, the gnomes of Peking, the Bank of Japan. Do you doubt for a moment they're about to override the governor on their high-speed presses?  They'll call the resulting new bubble "wealth," and in a small way it will be, until next time.

Jul 6, 2015

The Art of the Lede

While not totally reflective of the story, this AP lede is the best I've seen in several days of media Odes on the Grecian Burn.

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- Greece is at the last chance saloon, thirsty and out of credit. Next stop could be the badlands of euro exit.

Well done, David McHugh.

Jul 1, 2015

Silver Sex in a Greek Cave

(Inspired by a morning AP headline saying Greek politicians  are about to "cave in" to the people who loaned them money and now want it back. {This headline does not necessarily represent reality}.)

(And also inspired by memories of Melina as Ilya, who, as previously reported in these pages, is the last known Greek person to work cheerfully and diligently through a six-day week.)

An independent dispenser of an honest product at at honest price, the hallmark of free market economics; rare enough to justify at least one repost of our heroine.

I liked Ilya and even Melina who became a nagging left-wing political bore, much like our own Susan Sarandon. For reasons which may suggest themselves, I have forgiven them both. Those reasons have nothing to do with their value as conversational partners.

All this leaves only the obscure title reference to "silver" to be explained. Easy.

Wouldn't it be nice today if we were in Pireus  with a bulging sack of pre-1964 U.S. silver coins? Or even some of those wonderful silver Drachmas which circulated in Athens up until the time when Greek politicians, like their American counterparts,  in cahoots with amoral bankers, found out that the drooling masses could be hoodwinked into accepting pieces of paper and clunky zinc medals in place of actual money.

We can think that over for a while and commiserate with the poor Greek worker (forgive the oxymoron) standing forlornly outside the barricaded bank where his "money" is, fidgeting with hands in his pocket, where it is not.

Then we can forget it because we live in America, a place ruled by Golden men and women who would not for a moment consider issuing and using value-free scrip and and pot metal discs, backed by nothing more than their fingers-crossed promises.

Apr 20, 2015

George Will and the Great Raisin Raid

Over four long years, Marv and Laura grew abut 500 tons of raisins out in California. By government reckoning, that's about $700,000 dollars worth. And that's how much the government wants . The Hornes object on grounds that they bought the land and the vines, planted, cultivated,  fertilized,watered, harvested and dried those little tasteies.

"Well, sure," says mommiedotguv, "but they didn't sell them right.  They violated a (trumpet fanfare here) Marketing Order!"

Enter George Will, an old Cold Warrior and  Buckley/Reaganite journalist. I find it odd that a guy can go months and months without seeing him cited or quoted in this libertarian corner of the internet.

It could be that most everyone considers him just too 20th Century to be worth reading anymore. It's more likely that the moderns and post-moderns find his words too hard. U no the ppl hu think lol & omg & wtf are adequate terms for any necessary exposition and all possible conditions of human emotion.

I mean, WTF!? George uses the word "recondite*" in this column about government stealing the Horne grapes.  More damning, he often expresses himself in the pre-tweet fashion, writing in complete sentences and paragraphs, each bearing some relationship to its predecessor.

His news peg for this weekend article was oral argument scheduled for the Supreme Court Wednesday. The Horne lawyers will try to persuade the justices that stealing the raisins is unconstitutional, no matter what Franklin Roosevelt  and his brain trust decided in 1937. Will thinks it is.

His larger point is more important.  The level of government meddling and theft and general pestering is huge. But since it is so recondite, hardly anyone understands it. So bad that you are being taxed in one way or another to maintain an official spearmint oil reserve. Not to mention "almonds, apricots, avocados, cherries, cranberries, dates, grapes, hazelnuts, kiwifruit, onions, pears, pistachios, plums, spearmint oil, walnuts and other stuff."

And if you tell me you were well aware that it is in the national interest to maintain an orderly market  in figs I'll call you a liar and add that your philosophy (a ) smells worse than a Syrian camel and   (b) is dangerous. This dangerous:

Government sprawl and meddlesomeness mock the idea that government is transparent. There are not enough cells in the human brain to enable Americans to know more than a wee fraction of what their government is up to. If they did know, they would know something useful — how much of what government does is a compound of the simply silly and the slightly sinister. The silly: Try to imagine the peril from which we are protected because the government maintains a spearmint oil reserve. The sinister: The government is bullying and stealing property to maintain programs that make Americans pay higher commodity prices than a free market would set.


I need to thank Mr. Will for adding impetus to my campaign to be your president. It reminds me to articulate a vital  plank in my agricultural reform platform.

Anyone using the term "marketing order" without obvious snide intent will be taken out and shot.


*It means abstruse.

Mar 18, 2015

Patience my ass...

It is a pretty normal day here at Camp Jiggleview. The weather is chilly and gray, so I'm tidying up the dump, running some errands, and planning to spend the afternoon and evening getting the shop squared away for spring projects.

Meaning that I am missing the latest hysterical predictions about that word Janet Yellin will choose or reject in her report and canned press conference this afternoon.

It is "patience." It is code for how soon she and her fellow pin-stripe central bankers will slow down the Federal Reserve Cartoon mimeograph machine.  If "patience" stays in, the presses keep rolling merrily along on into the distant future.  If "patience" is deleted she'll retard the throttle from Mach 3 to Mach 2.95.

In the latter case, you can rejoice. That thousand dollars you have tucked away in a CD will start earning five dollars a year. Instead of about two.


A rate increase negligible for virtually all Americans is a bigger deal for the banks, currency traders and other one per centers.  Dealing in billions and trillions they can live and die on such tweaks. Tweaklets.

Not so Joe Six Pack, to whom the damage is already done.


I'm talking about a hard-working, respectable, frugal Joe Six Pack. He made his jeans last an extra six months. He usually bought generic. He told his whiny,  rotten high school daughter, "No, you can't have a $3,000 prom dress; $2,000 is the limit and I'm sorry as Hell it will ruin your life." And he made his six-pack of Busch Lite last three days.

Let's say a working life time of such intelligent thrift came to fruition in about 2007 when he celebrated having finally put $100,000 away for his golden years. Simple CDs would turn about $5,000 a year in interest. Even without compounding until he retired,  that income would help pad out his  Social Security check and company pension. There would be enough to keep the car in top shape and, maybe, even replace it at 200,000 miles.

Enough for some travel, maybe even one of those cut-rate six-day cruises that would make the missus so happy.

But in an eye-blink his world changed because all the politicians and gnomes decided the only way to  bail out the Bank of America was to make his $100,000 nest egg worthless as an investment. They would print enough money to make interest superfluous -- meaning zero plus a giggly, face-saving fraction of a per cent.

Instead of $5,000 a year Joe would earn $500. Rounding and crunching the numbers, that means he has  already suffered a permanent loss of something like $30,000 since 2008. A modest car, that cheap cruise, a trip to Yellowstone.

Just to make ends meet, he spends his golden years in the Walmart foyer, handing out carts and trying to be nice to shoppers. Joe, meet the American dream as redefined by Bernanke, Yellin, and all the politicians and too-big-to-fails to whom they kowtow.


I agree this tome is too long, too windy. The Hell with it. You say "immoral" your way. I'll say it mine.

Jan 19, 2015

Put that in your alpenhorn and smoke it

I told you the goddam Greeks would screw up your next day at the range.

About four years ago ago Greece finally discovered it was broker than Pa Joad and went whining to the real Europeans for enough money to keep up its crucial grape-leaf ag subsidies and free goatburgers for its starving masses.

Bonn said "Jah!" and Paris said "Mais oui!"  Never mind they didn't have any Euros to "lend" Greece.  They borrowed some. From themselves and the other Eurozone sub-bureaucracies organized along old nation-state lines.

You make such magic work by owning the  printing presses.

All else followed, and now you can't afford ammunition from the gnomes of RUAG. The latest currency jitterbug will make everything Swiss costlier; the expert guess this morning is 5 per cent to 20 per cent.

It happened this way:

The money gods of Bern (analogous to our own Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellin) tried to prevent that for a few years. They would seduce the rubes -- many of whom hold  PhDs in economics -- by simple decree.  Like a 20-dollar girl, Swissies  would take on all comers. "You want to sell Euros? Sure, I'm putting out francs for them; price be damned."  And that's how Switzerland kept her franc low when  it wanted to climb.

The purpose, of course, was to make Swiss manufacturers and exporters happy.

It worked out okay for a little while, but last week some pin-striped Swiss guy in a big corner office stumbled over a Maggie Thatcher speech and made a brilliant leap to the logical next step of her famous comment on the economics of socialism.

In which ever of the 666 Swiss dialects he favored he said, "No shit. And that means the trouble with tossing your pretty-good money after Europaper cartoons is that pretty soon you run out of it."

So he called a gnome meeting. His insight carried the day, and all the  Swiss bankers and government ministers of plenty decided to let the franc do what the franc wanted. Mirable dictu, it would find its own value -- some number freely agreed to by people who want to acquire it or dispose of it.

You have seen the rest. The franc mimicked a Space-X shot while stock markets hit their knees like a Clinton intern.  Chaos ensued. What will happen to our cozy trillion-dollar bets (again, overwhelmingly with borrowed money called "margin") if politicians start getting serious about letting actual markets decide on the cost of things, including, especially, money? 

Anyway, that's why you can't afford to shoot much of that good RWS ammo anymore .

(It didn't help that the Chinese --the Chinese for crying out loud -- decided to make their speculators gamble with something more like real money. Nothing wong with that, but it is a rant for another day.)

Sep 23, 2014

There's nothing new about mulish tyranny

In late autumn,  510 years ago, seaman Christopher Columbus was in a painful bed in his rented house near Seville. After four voyages of discovery he was still "Admiral of the Ocean Sea"  by royal decree of Ferdinand and the dying Isabella, but  the title was becoming hollow.

The exhausted, gouty old Italian sailor was ending his days at the mercy of conspirators at the Spanish  court, sitting that winter in Segovia, nearly 400 miles of barely passable roads and ruts to his north. He needed to get there to plead in person for what he had been promised in 1492.

Three possibilities existed. One was a coach, for some reason not available to him. Another was the high-stepping Spanish horse, too fidgety for his racked old body.  Finally, the mule.

And here we get to the parallel ideas of 1504 and  2014, crony capitalism department. Samuel Eliot Morison  explains:

Columbus ... requested royal permission to ride a mule. The Andalusian horse-raising interests, it appears, had become so alarmed at the increasing employment of mules as saddle animals that a law had been passed forbidding their use for such a purpose. Columbus believed he could endure the gentle gaits of a mule but not the somewhat jittery paces of an Andalusian horse; so he applied to the King for a mule permit, and it was granted. (emphasis mine).

Columbus' remaining six months of life are interesting, perhaps poignant, but beyond the point here, which is that government was, then as now, in the hands of the greedy market perverts who will, for a price, decide who can sell what to whom and for how much.

It has become a little more subtle these days. Who can doubt the mule-ban followed direct bribes from horse breeders to someone privileged to whisper into royal ears.  In our democratic times,  the bribe takes another form, and the political payoff comes in votes. Voting blocs, actually.  For the thoughtless greens there is Solyndra, for instance. For the war hawk industry there are Halliburton and Blackwater, for instance. For general welfare-statist lobby there is Acorn, for instance.

I guess that is one reason I rarely give full voice to the contempt I have for the Obama clique and all its predecessors back though Wilson, at least. The enemy is not so much the men and women of the statist left and the statist right. It is the corrupted idea they serve.

These elected royals didn't invent oligarchy, crony capitalism. They are simply its latter-day minions, tools of the thoughtless notion that they -- like all politicians -- have the right to dictate your every decision and reap the rewards from grateful winners in a government-controlled marketplace..

Jackasses, you might say. Not totally responsible for their actions, but surely in need of the greatest discipline.


The quoted passage is in the one-volume edition of Morison's "Admiral of the Ocean Sea," the Little-Brown 1942 edition, p. 664.

Aug 3, 2014

Hey Ms. Yellin...

I gotchur "2 per cent" inflation hangin' cuz I still still use a dangerous incendiary in a Zippo.

Observe the one on the right first, a gift late last year. The receipt was in the bag, about four bucks,  plus tax.

Now look left,  please, for a couple of pertinent points. The 57-cent price is an obvious hint that something has changed. I find it more compelling that the Ronsonol folks once had enough confidence in price stability to paint the price on the can itself.


Leftie has a bar code, dating it no older than the early '80s. It is probably newer.

You can pick your own year, do a little arithmetic, and calculate the depth of the Federal Reserve Board long-standing lie that "inflation is tame."

(The easy way is an adaptation of the  rule of 72;  price divided by  annual price increase equals the number of years necessary for the price to double.  At 2 per cent annual currency devaluation, a few ounces of fluid at 57 cents would, after 36 years, cost $1.14. )

Even easier to digest: The 7 per cent sales tax on the new plastic-pack Ronsonol was about 28 cents. So the tax alone, now,  would have bought a half can of the product then. (The anal who wish to quibble over the odd penny and the 4 or 5 per cent c. 1984  tax on 57 cents are free to do so and will be enthusiastically ignored. Likewise the the additional half-ounce in the new packaging.)


Fer cryin' out loud, Jim, how the heck did this tickle your muse on such a  fine Sunday morning?

Glad you asked.

I've spent a couple of days massaging fiberglass to make permanent a "temporary" (read "slapdash and ugly and not too effective") repair on the leaky Texson camper  roof. This sort of thing requires acetone. So I rooted around in the place where I store volatile chemicals. No  acetone.

But I found the Ronsonol can, nearly empty, and noticed the price.  All else followed because I am lately most interested  in the scope and depth of lies by politicians and public-tit economists.

Despite everything, however, I am incredibly pleased with myself because among the flammables and explosives I found a long-forgotten sealed gallon of Holiday gas stove fuel and noticed its label claim to be a "naphthalene product."

So is lighter fluid, so I dunked the Zippo in it. Worked fine.  I topped off both Ronsonol cans.

Somewhere in the majestic vastness of American law this simply must be a criminal act, at least an OSHA or hazmat offense. So I apologize for an illegal act of personal inflation amelioration.

Please don't put no choke hold on me, Officer Dan.

Jul 30, 2014

The Thousand-Dollar Morning

There aren't many  days when I blow through $1,000 before breakfast.

It all started with New Dog Libby whose food supply was down to 48 hours. Meaning Walmart. Where I discovered Sam's heirs were out of .22 Long Rifle and Sodastream replacement cartridges.  So I settled for

--a month's worth of Purina in an Ol' Roy bag

--a week's worth of milk and bread

--and one medium-grade party's worth of beer.

Elsewhere in the great commercial centers of the Smugleye-on-Lake SMSA I acquired four gallons of non-ethanated gasoline for the small engines required to maintain the parade fields of Camp Jiggleview, of which I am Commandant.

Math whizzes will  note that even at Ben Bernanke/Janet Yellin prices I am not within spitting distance of a grand, but wait. There's more.

While among the barbarians anyway, I thought, "What the Hell.  The van is already warmed up and there will be a winter this year, Al Gore to the contrary notwithstanding." So I  turned into the local grain elevator which also sells propane, waded through the early-morning farmers and agricultural poseurs loafing over free coffee, and bought

--one year's worth of icky fossil fuel.

Honesty requires admission that even the earth-smarming LP didn't quite get me  to the four-figure threshold which justifies a whining blog entry, so I waffled a hair and have just -- still before breakfast -- transferred the remainder of the balance due the fine (if dilatory) Caspian folks for

--what I hope is a life time's supply of slide for the Commanderish project in .45 ACP. (The promised delivery time, more than 13 weeks ago, was "about 8-10 weeks." At least they're being honest in their pledge not to bill my plastic company until it is shipped.)

That did it, and so to breakfast before seeing if there is air in the bicycle tires so I can once again go can collecting in the country air.


Side observations include.

1. The critical shortage of Sodastream cartridges rivals that of .22s. One suspects a conspiracy between Bloomberg and Holder. Each knows compressed carbon dioxide can readily be converted into a weapon of mass destruction with the addition of a few other chemicals commonly found around any well-supplied home -- propane (UH Ohhh), ammonia, Clorox, and/or Ffffg.  Among others. This terrorist threat would certainly make make women, children, and minorities hardest hit.

2.  Since women are supposed to be nicer and more truthful than men, I had hoped to find Janet's dictated "2 per cent" inflation was truth rather than an echo of Ben's long lie. It was saddening, therefore, to find smoked picnics (the cheap parts of pigs) at $2.38 a pound against against an historical (c. 2009) under a buck. Perhaps worse,  Smucker's all-natural peanut butter has advanced from $2.49 to $2.98  in just a few months, a clear inflationary rate of 19.67 per cent.

And if all that ain't as true and sincere as a Jimmy Swaggert apology I'll kiss your picnic on the steps of the Federal Reserve Board and pay you to hire Hillary Clinton's booking agent for the running commentary.

Jun 25, 2014

No, it is economics where truth is the first casualty

Here's a good place to expose the fairy tale tellers  such as Janet Yellin, Barack Obama, and most every politician and professional economist in thrall to government in one way or another.

It is a daily Wall Street Journal feature reporting cash prices for about every basic item that folks buy and sell.  They are not futures, not speculation about what a thing might be worth next month; they are cash-on-the-barrel-head wholesale prices representing actual sales, actual deliveries in return for a handful of Federal Reserve Cartoons.

Edible tallow was 39 cents a pound yesterday, nice white grease the same. Gold bullion at $1324.60 per troy ounce. A nice young chicken carcass,  ready for  your broiler,  was $1.114 a pound.

And to get to life's basic necessities, lead solder traded hands at $1.31 a pound.  (Which, for you non-reloaders,  is about 7000 grains or roughly 35 200-grain semi-wadcutters for your 1911A1.)

This isn't pure lead. It is some sort of solder alloy, but that is beside the point because it is decidedly leadish and we're interested only in comparing real prices with government fairy tales, the chief of which are its "tame" inflation nonsense and Fed promises that it will continue to regulate its printing presses to max out inflation at 2 per cent.

Back to the WSJ chart. That lead sold one year ago yesterday for $1.22 a pound. Subtract and divide and discover that lead is up 7 per cent in 12 months.

I'm cherry picking only slightly. Grains are down substantially, for instance, but that probably reflects the decline of the ethanol-thug subsidies more than any real market force.

The chicken? Up about 6 per cent. Butter up 56 per cent. And let's not depress ourselves with pork and beef. If you're looking for stability and "affordability," I can recommend only the tallow and grease which are actually a penny or two cheaper over the year. And burlap, down from about 41 cents a yard to 39.  Chow down. Get yourself a nice new wardrobe.

Ma Joad, in the box car East of Eden where survival was measured in the ounces of fried dough still possible:  We got enough grease for two more days.

Two per cent inflation?  It is Grimm, a yarn with  all the credibility and integrity of  Bush II in 2003, under the Abe Lincoln banner, about Iraq's glorious future as the Peoria of the Middle East: "Mission Accomplished."

Mar 6, 2014

Follow the ruble

In the great counting house of Moscow, the accountants are breaking out the vodka. Boss Putin's economic enhancement plan is working.

--Russia announced it would charge Ukraine more for natural gas.

--Secretary of State Kerry immediately went to Kiev with a billion dollars in hand to help the peasants pay Russia for higher priced gas. (He added a promise of "technical assistance," price tag unspecified.) So if you want to think of the Ukraine as a big pipeline for whooshing your money to Russia, I will not argue with you.

--The European Union then announced it would add $15 billion to the Ukraine kitty if the IMF also kicks in, which it will. It is useful to recall from time to time that the United States provides at least 17 per cent of  IMF money.

--President Obama is not to be outdone in personally saving Ukraine. He is moving heaven and earth to ramp up exports of  America's new natural gas. It is better, he decides, that the U.S energy bonanza be directed to the benefit of central European peasant hovels. Cold hovels in Minnesota are of less concern. For one thing, he believes, warm American homes are largely responsible for global warming and the concomitant damage to snail darters and spotted owls.

Short the greenback. Go long rubles. Get yourself a wood burner.


--The citations are here and here and here.

Feb 7, 2014

The most wonderful Wednesday ever

Four days and a wakeup.

Then it's the Wednesday of the Three Blessings. Two of them are sure things, as sure as any temporal thing can be, anyway. The other is a well-hedged promise.

1. On that day, because I continue to be such a dedicated and competent retiree, President Obama will deliver my monthly stipend which he financed by extorting money from you. Sorry about that, Chief.

2. Simultaneously, my thimble full of that little leveraged-bond ETF I keep mentioning goes "x,"  adding one more piece of pittance to the money I'm trying to put aside for my old age. (I hope, even in that distant future, to be prepared to whip out cash for a clean GI issue 1911 some guy is tired of. Never mind that I might need to hire a kid to rack the slide when I want to shoot it.)

3.  Some time on that day of Woden the air temperature here at Camp Jiggleview, of which I am commandant, will at last exceed 20 degrees above zero. This is another Obama pledge. Of course it is channeled through his National Weather Service, but we know where the buck stops, don't we?

(Subsequently, His Ineptness promises no, repeat no, temperatures seriously below zero for weeks on end. Hope you're right, Buck-O.)


Returning to the present, the 12-below present, I awoke to a too-cool room, moving me to switch on the propane for about about 10 minutes. (Damn, another $138.22 shot to the devil.

The fireplace embers were glowing nicely, and plenty of firewood lay near the burner, but only the normally preferable big oak rounds, close to a foot in diameter and therefore not too good for quickly broiling my frostbitten backside.   So I dressed (before coffee {!}) and trudged to the outer pile  for a load of squaw wood, small and soft, which is now blazing. The aforementioned backside is acquiring a nice sear, and I am content.


Feb 6, 2014

I'm going home to Mother and I am taking the teevee!

Sanborn is an inoffensive little country town about 45 miles down the road. Folks get along. The economy is pretty good.  Hardly enough crime to shake a stick at, and the wives have pretty much stopped bringing shredded carrots in lime Jello to the church-basement potlucks.

It's just the kind of target bigger government looks for.  We'll teach those Neanderthal bastards!

Sanborn has a three-member public utilities board. All three were men. One's term expired, and a woman applied. So did the incumbent. The town council re-appointed him, making her mad and generating a complaint to Higher.

Iowa has a law vaguely requiring "gender balance" on city boards and commissions. Who ever got the Sanborn beef  lateraled it to our state ombudswoman.

Apparently a few reams of correspondence ensued, ending with her sheaf of "recommendations for corrective actions." The council promised to keep them on file and maybe get back to her. It seems the legislators (a) passed the law in order   to mollify gender-balance voters and (b) failed to prescribe any punishment  for violations in order to comfort male chauvinist pigs.

And this made her stomp her official ombudsfoot:

"According to a letter Ombudsman (sic) Ruth Cooperrider sent to the Sanborn mayor and city council members this week, the town did not take any of her suggested corrective actions. She expressed frustration, but said this would be her final communication."


Please stop throwing china at me. Gender balance is a good idea. And foot-stomping is not solely a female trait; see a rerun of any Obama press conference after congress declined to give him exactly what he wanted.

It doesn't make a Hell of a lot of difference whether an official chair is warmed by bureaucratic butt sheathed in silken step-ins or a hairy one sporting camo boxers. If the job is administrative all that's required is a competent administrator. If it is policy-making, it needs only a human with a sense of sane policy-making.

For instance, I fear nothing from Janet Yellen that I wouldn't have feared from Larry Summers. Toilet seat up or toilet seat down makes no never mind to the actual issue of how much funny money to print up so His Ineptness and the congress can keep right on buying your vote.

Feb 3, 2014

Welcome, Janet!

Janet Yellin has just been sworn in as the chief of of the American mimeograph machine.  To celebrate, the American equity markets crashed again. (DJ IA down a couple hundred points.) The heaviest investors seem confused about how much free money she'll be printing for the banks to loan them for purposes of speculation.

Only a despicable hard-money crank would suggest a causal relationship between Janet's ascendancy to Ben's old seat  and the roiled markets.*  After all, she she was against the tapir before she was for it.

So far, the  tapir  isn't working too well despite the public relations efforts of the country's best-oiled spin machines.

It was supposed to push interest rates up a tad, not much, just enough to make  the  aforesaid cranks shut up about Wiemar. It is working the other way. Interest on government insecurities is still trickling down -- a few minutes ago the 10-year at 2.6 per cent and the 30 at a little over 3.5.

If you don't  follow numbers like that, no problem. Their meaning is simple.  Your bank will continue paying you effectively nothing on your CDs, large and small, for a while, anyway. In due course, though, we'll probably have to pull a Turkey where the Ankara version of  the Ben and Janet show has just been shoved into reverse and lending rates were tripled to 12 per cent for overnight loans.

(I won't be putting money into Turkish CDs, though, because one of the effects will be oh-crap price hikes. A respectable working stiff's hookah, no brass filigree, plain plastic tubing,  at 38 zillion lira?)

It's all confusing, but I suppose a guy should just think back to Ben Bernanke when he cut the Kwee from 85 billion to 75 billion thin-air FRCs per month. He was careful to promise the too-big-to-fails that it was all sort of a joke. Lend away, Boys and Girls.  Vee haf other vays of making all the marks -- wait, I mean dollars of course , ha-ha -- you'll ever need.


*When a writer is too chicken to predict whether the markets will go up or down,  he is permitted by long tradition to wimp out with "roiled."

Jan 24, 2014

The Renaissance Libertarian Shivers

It is a little chillier than I like here in the Commandant's Quarters this morning, too cold for comfortable showering.

That happens from time to time in wicked cold weather when I don't take proper care of my wood burner. It runs far less efficiently when it wants its ashes hauled, and that chore is overdue.

The ordinary solution is technology.  A lazy twist of the propane dial quickly brings things up to a toasty 77 or so. That's exactly what occurred about 5 a.m., despite yesterday's news that propane had spiked to a painful $3 per gallon. Making my regular morning news scan about 5:05 a.m, I learned that the going price is suddenly  $5. I madly twisted the dial the other way, killing the main flame and the pilot.

I turned on some electricity  (expensive, but cheaper than propane at the going Adam Smith-determined price),  stirred the coals, and put on a hat. As I type, the mercury is 70 and rising. Propane sellers weep.

I've modified the daily tactical plan. First light will find a clean firebox and a  hearth full of special emergency high-output cellulose -- thinner splits of oak and even a piece or two of old cedar fence post. Take that propane hustlers.

An hour later the Command Thermodynamic Production and  Control Center will be ready for normal fueling with big billets of hard wood. I shal then resume the grace of normal life, a breakfast of organic,  free-range eggs shirred with hummingbird tongues and Benedictine in preparation for rigorous fencing practice to a background of Vivaldi.

So it's no real problem, just a flurry of inconvenience. That's offset by a timely object lesson in the extreme ludditarian and free-market positions I've been ranting about lately.

(a) The cure for $5 propane is $5 propane. The more people who turn off the valve, the quicker the cure works. (b) Implementing (a) requires an alternative. In this case it is wood and, to a small extent, grid watts. Beyond that, there is the Knipco heater. Further yet (power failure?) the old Kerosun still works and doesn't need electricity.

So I'm several steps away from spending my days in bed, huddled under a blanket, whining about the evil forces of capitalism making me miserable, dreaming of going on network teevee, telling the world of my misery which, of course, ain't my fault no how.


Footnote 1: If I did decide to tell it to the cameras, I could blame Obama. Or Goldwater. But I suppose Bush would get me the most nods of statist agreement, and a guy can't go wrong reaching for a high Neilson rating.

Footnote 2:  I hope I'm not alarming my family. If worse comes to worst, there's enough gas in the tank to make it to mid-March, at least, when the sun shines warmer and the Invisible Hand tells the propane industry: too much. That gas was sold to me some 13 months ago at c.$1.25 per gallon.

Footnote 3: Betcha my state and local regulators secretly love it. A 300-gallon propane fill at $5 would render unto them $105 in sales tax. Do that enough times and you can build all sorts of neat new bicycle trails and sincere people to adminster them.