domingo, 12 de junio de 2016

United States Loses Crown of World’s Most Competitive Economy

According to the Global Competitiveness Index, Chile is the Most Competitive Economy in Latin America

The United States is no longer the leader in economic competition falling to the 30th position. (Summa)
 Mexico fell six places in 2016 global competitiveness rankings in the Global Competitiveness Index IMD, which analyzes 61 economies and was prepared by the Business School of Switzerland.
Mexico now occupies the 45th position, having fallen from last year’s 39th spot.
Meanwhile, the United States lost the lead in competitiveness after three years of leadership, and now occupies the third-place position. The most economically competitive countries are now China and Switzerland, respectively.
“The United States still has the best economic performance in the world, but there are other factors taken into account when assessing competitiveness. The absolute power of the US economy is no longer enough to keep it as leader,” Director of the IMD Competitiveness Center Arturo Bris said in a statement.

Hungry Venezuelan Soldiers Steal Goats amid Food Shortages

With Nothing to Eat at Military Base, Six Army Officers Raid Farm

chivos robados
The farmer said he did not want to stop the soldiers from taking the goats because they were armed. (El Caroreño)
The Venezuelan military’s reputation has been considerably worsened after its involvement in criminal acts that have taken place in one rural area this Sunday. On May 1, six army officials were arrested for stealing goats from a nearby farm.
The arrest happened in Lara in the Central region of the country when the police noticed an unmarked van, which they later discovered was transporting dead animals.
According to local media reporting, the military officials were interrogated and not only admitted to the crime, but argued they had no choice because they were without food at Fort Manaure.
Media outlet El Caroreño, based in Lara, said goat owners claimed this was not the first time their goats have been stolen by military officials.

Venezuela’s Top Court Bans Media Footage of Lynchings

Record Number of Lynchings Forces Government to Crack Down on Media Coverage

A judge ruled that the media does not need to show lynchings to continue carrying out its duty of informing the people. (E-Veracruz)
The Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Justice Tribunal in Venezuela has ordered the prohibition of all digital media in the country showing lynchings.
According to the order, digital press will not be aloud to inform Venezuelans about acts of hanging through audiovisuals, nor through social media.
The new rule is due to a lawsuit brought against La Patilla y Caraota Digital.
The prohibition will also extended to all national media communication with the ability to broadcast videos online.

Chavista “Collectives:” How 21st Century Brown Shirts Oppress Venezuelans

Armed Thugs who Commit Crimes with Government's Consent Are the Last Support of Venezuela's Failed Socialist Revolution

Chavista “Collectives:” Armed thugs are the last remaining support of Venezueña’s failed socialist revolution.(Runrunes)
As Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis worsens and protests against the government increase, the violent “collectives,” the Chavista regime’s “shock troops,” have become infamous for their attacks against opposition politicians, journalists, and citizens.
On Thursday, June 9, Julio Borges, the leader of the largest opposition party in the National Assembly, was brutally assaulted while protesting peacefully in front of the National Electoral Council (CNE). Borges himself accused the Chavista collectives of carrying out the attack.
One week earlier, on June 2, several armed men harassed and attacked journalists — while also stealing their equipment — as they covered a protest against the government that arose a few blocks away from the presidential palace in Caracas. This assault took place in broad daylight and in front of the state’s security forces as residents of nearby neighborhoods protested against the worsening food shortages.

Universal Basic Income

Universal Basic Income


Universal Basic Income is in the news. Charles Murray wrote a thoughtful piece in the Wall Street Journal Saturday Review. The Swiss overwhelmingly rejected a referendum -- but on a proposal quite different from Murray's.

Murray proposes that "every American citizen age 21 and older would get" $10,000 per year "deposited electronically into a bank account in monthly installments." along with essentially a $3,000 per year health insurance voucher.

The most important part of Murray's proposal: UBI completely replaces
 Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, Supplemental Security Income, housing subsidies, welfare for single women and every other kind of welfare and social-services program, as well as agricultural subsidies and corporate welfare. 

Our Outdated Constitution

via Defining Ideas (Hoover Institution)
The media’s wall-to-wall coverage of Donald Trump and the presidential horserace is a distraction from the main event. The point of the horserace—and of all politics—is to run a government capable of dealing effectively with the nation’s problems. But effective government is precisely what we don’t have. America’s greatest challenge is that it is burdened by a government that doesn’t work, and indeed is dysfunctional.
Why is the nation so poorly governed? This is the question that we address in our new book, Relic. What we show is that the fundamentals of an answer can be traced to the Constitution—which, for all its admirable qualities, imposes a structure of government that has long been outdated, and is ill-suited to modern times.

A More Modern Constitution?

The dreaded presidential showdown between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will spur many thoughtful people to rethink the structure of America’s basic political institutions. One notable proposal has been offered recently by Terry M. Moe and William G. Howell. Their recent column for Defining Ideas offers a summary of their book, Relic: How Our Constitution Undermines Effective Government—and Why We Need a More Powerful Presidency. Moe and Howell locate our current political malaise in the Founders’ decision, made some 229 years ago in a largely agrarian society, to vest a great deal of power in Congress, which explains why government is so dysfunctional today.

The Dangerous Rise Of Scientism

Image credit: 
Barbara Kelley
In antiquity, the followers of the Greek philosopher Pythagoras trumped any doctrinal dispute by saying “Ipse dixit”––“He himself has said it.” Rather than demonstrating the strength of his argument, a Pythagorean would simply invoke the great master in order to end the debate. Today we call this logical fallacy the “appeal to authority,” yet we continue to indulge it. Only now, our master is science or, more often, what appears to be science.
The rise of modern science in the seventeenth century was driven by testing and rejecting such appeals to authority. Whether scripture, tradition, or Aristotle, authority could not be allowed to substitute for logic and evidence. The famous example, of course, is Galileo, who trusted the truths of mathematics and personal observation even if they led to conclusions that contradicted the doctrines of the church or the authority of the ancients.

Tyranny Within The Administrative State

One of the most important cases now before the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia is PHH Corporation v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Superficially, the case only involves interpreting obscure provisions contained in the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) that regulate the operation of the affiliated reinsurance markets for home mortgages. In effect, these reinsurance provisions are a commonly accepted way of spreading risk. Thus when home mortgages are made with down payments of under 20 percent, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac typically require the borrowers to get mortgage insurance, which they could obtain most cheaply by working through their lenders. These primary insurers then routinely “cede” a portion of their risk to their reinsurers who received a premium for their services rendered. Most of these companies are wholly owned captives of their primary insurers.

The White House’s Seven Deadly Errors

Editor's note: This article is part of a Hoover series of essays on military history. 
Strategic defeat often results from an accumulation of tactical failures. Repeated battlefield setbacks can destroy an adversary’s capabilities, as befell Napoleonic France, or its will, as befell Britain in the American War of Independence. In such cases, military organizations may deserve at least some of the blame for the strategic loss, because in most countries the military leadership bears primary responsibility for training, equipping, and commanding armed forces, functions that are fundamental to tactical effectiveness. Military strategy, by contrast, is often set by civilian leaders, and in the case of the United States it is the statutory prerogative of the civilian commander in chief.

Why Republicans Will Vote For Trump

If Donald Trump manages to curb most of his more outrageous outbursts by November, most Republicans who would have preferred that he did not receive the nomination will probably hold their noses and vote for him.
How could that be when a profane Trump has boasted that he would limit Muslim immigration into the United States, talked cavalierly about torturing terrorist suspects and executing their relatives, promised to deport all eleven-million Mexican nationals who are residing illegally in the U.S., and threatened a trade war with China by slapping steep tariffs on their imports?
A number of reasons come to mind.

Trump’s Trade Fallacies

One of the biggest policy victories for the United States—and, indeed, for the world—over the last 60 years has been on international trade. Both the United States, which was relatively protectionist in the first half of the twentieth century, and most other countries have steadily reduced trade restrictions. And the blossoming of freer trade has made both Americans and foreigners better off. Just as free trade between Californians and Alabamans makes people in those two states better off, so too does free trade between Americans and Chinese people, Mexicans, and Canadians make all sides better off. People gain from trade, or else they wouldn’t trade.

Secrets From the Reagan Revolution, Part II

Secrets From the Reagan Revolution, Part II

Above the initials ZU, we are dealt with as follows:
“Your beloved Ronald did more damage to the U.S. than any other politician in the history of the country.”
The reader refers to our interview yesterday with two men who played prominent roles in Ronald Reagan’s 1980 election, Elliott Curson and Jeff Bell.
No small feat that, working more damage than any other politician in the history of the country. The competition is brutal, and Olympic-level.
But continue:  
He moved the Republicans to a party based on reactionary social issues as a smoke screen to cover preferential treatment of the mega-wealthy. Now we have an oligarchy, and never in history has an oligarchy peacefully given up power. In a sense, he single-handedly undid the American Revolution. Of course, for the few extra dollars you received in tax savings, you will all look the other way and either make believe this never happened or blame it all on those “evil socialists”!
We don’t seem to recall receiving much in the way of tax savings. Regardless, we don’t blame “evil socialists” for the American body politic’s indifferent state of repair. No, we cast a much wider net. And many of the leading suspects precede Ronald Wilson Reagan. Some by a good deal.
Another president with a “Wilson” in his name springs to mind. That one signed the Federal Reserve into existence over 100 years ago. He also horse-collared America into the war to end all wars. That led to “the peace to end all peace.”  

An Inside Look at the Reagan Revolution, Part I

An Inside Look at the Reagan Revolution, Part I

It’s an election year, and a fascinating one at that. How can it be anything else when Donald Trump is one of the candidates?
We recently sat down for a special interview with two critical figures from another remarkable election, the 1980 campaign that produced Ronald Reagan.
These two men, Elliott Curson and Jeff Bell, played a pivotal but little known behind-the-scenes role in Reagan’s election.  
During Reagan’s primary campaign, they produced his legendary campaign ads that vaulted him above the other Republican candidates. Reagan’s previous ads had flopped until he brought these two gentlemen aboard. In many ways, they rescued his campaign.
According to Rowland Evans and Robert Novak, two top political commentators of the day, “It is no exaggeration to say that those Curson-Bell spots… were indispensable to Reagan’s solution of his basic political and ideological problems — a solution necessary for him to win the presidency.”
Others have echoed that same sentiment. Former Treasury Secretary and Secretary of State James Baker among them. Another, Kathleen Jamieson of the famous Annenberg School for Communication, said about Elliott in particular, “For Reagan, Curson was a gift from the gods.”
Part I of our full conversation is below. Read on…

The Gold Bull Is Back

The Gold Bull Is Back

We know that central banks and governments have lost the plot. When the crisis started in 2006, U.S. short rates were 5%. In 2008 they were down to zero and have virtually stayed there ever since.
A crisis package of $25 trillion was thrown at the financial system. This is what the likes of JP Morgan and Goldman told the Fed they had to do to save the bank(-ers). Ten years later the world financial system is in a mess that is exponentially greater. World debt has exploded, most governments are running deficits and the financial system is balancing dangerously on the edge of a precipice. 

Ben Bernanke’s New Helicopter Money Plan

Ben Bernanke’s New Helicopter Money Plan


The worldwide race of central banks to the zero bound and negative interest rates (NIRP) and their $10 trillion bond-buying spree during the last seven years was the brainchild of Ben S Bernanke.
He’s the one who falsely insisted that Great Depression 2.0 was just around the corner in September 2008. Along with Goldman’s man at the U.S. Treasury, Hank Paulson, it was Bernanke who stampeded all of Washington into tossing out the window the whole rule book of sound money, fiscal rectitude and free market discipline.
In fact, there was no extraordinary crisis…
The Lehman failure essentially triggered a self-contained leverage and liquidity bust in the canyons of Wall Street. It would have burned out there had the Fed allowed money market interest rates to do their work. It would have forced the gambling houses into liquidation like Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. They had loaded their balance sheets with trillions of illiquid or long-duration assets and funded them with cheap overnight money.

The Impossibility of a Soft Landing

The Impossibility of a Soft Landing

CPI Since 1800
While the robo-traders play tag with the chart points, it is worth considering how it will all end. After all, at today’s close the broad market (S&P 500) was valued at 24.3X LTM earnings per share. That is, valuations are in the nosebleed section of history, but financial history has tumbled into the sub-basement of future possibilities.
Stated differently, every first year spread-sheet jockey knows that what drives LBO models and NPV calculations is the assumed terminal year growth rate. Get imaginative enough about the possibilities out there, and you can come up with a swell return on today’s investment even if the next few years look a little rocky—-or even alot so.
So never mind that earnings have fallen five straight quarters and at $86.53 per share are now down 18.5% from their September 2014 LTM peak. Also ignore the fact that this quarter will be down 10% and that there is no rational basis for a rebound any time soon.

Another Shooting Tragedy in a Gun-Free Zone

It’s happened again. A nut went to a gun-free zone and engaged in a mass killing.

In this example, the perpetrator apparently was an Islamic fanatic upset about gay people.
But let’s set aside the question of motive and ask the important question of why politicians and bureaucrats don’t want innocent people to have any ability to defend themselves (they’ve even adopted policies prohibiting members of the military from being armed!).
The invaluable Crime Prevention Research Center has already weighed in on the issue.
Since at least 1950, only slightly over 1 percent of mass public shootings have occurred where general citizens have been able to defend themselves. Police are extremely important in stopping crime, but even if they had been present at the time of the nightclub shooting, they may have had a very difficult time stopping the attack. Attackers will generally shoot first at any uniformed guards or officers who are present (the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris last year illustrates that point).  …In this particular case the police only arrived on the scene after the attack occurred. That illustrates another point: it is simply impossible for the police to protect all possible targets. It is hard to ignore how these mass public shooters consciously pick targets where they know victims won’t be able to defend themselves.

Mencken vs. Lincoln

by William H. Peterson

by William H. Peterson
Mention Mencken and I say it's time again to give that libertarian genius his due for helping to light up the dark pro-state pro-war pitfalls of political democracy today — and indeed all the way back to Ancient Greece when thinkers of the stature of Aristotle and Plato hit the vacuity of those who glibly equate Political Democacy with freedom and independence.
Henry Louis Mencken, 1880—1956, known as either the "Bad Boy of Baltimore" or the "Sage of Baltimore," was christened by Murray Rothbard as "The Joyous Libertarian." In an article so entitled in the New Individualist Review in 1962, Rothbard hit the wide public impression that Mencken was but a cynic and nihilist

Rights Versus Wishes


Here is what presidential aspirant Sen. Bernie Sanders said: “I believe that health care is a right of all people.” President Barack Obama declared that health care “should be a right for every American.” The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: “Every person has a right to adequate health care.” President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in his January 1944 message to Congress, called for “the right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health.” And it is not just a health care right that people claim. There are rights to decent housing, good food, and a decent job, and for senior citizens, there’s a right to prescription drugs. In a free and moral society, do people have these rights? Let’s look at it.

Fiddling Away Black Futures

Most black politicians, ministers, civil rights advocates, and professionals support Hillary Clinton’s quest for the presidency. Whoever becomes the next president, whether it’s a Democrat or Republican, will mean little or nothing in terms of solutions to major problems that confront many black people. We’ve already seen that even a black president means little or nothing. Politics and political power cannot significantly improve the lives of most black people and may even be impediments.

Troubled Waters Ahead for US and China in the Asia-Pacific Region

Dean Cheng

Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama. (Photo: Pat Benic/UPI/Newscom)
This summer promises to be a turbulent one for the Asia-Pacific region. As the recent Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore made clear, the United States and China are each promoting a distinctly different view of the regional situation.
The United States continues to reiterate the need for regional stability, while China fundamentally perceives the South China Sea as a matter of its territorial sovereignty. As important, Beijing once again emphasized that, in its view, it is the United States that is destabilizing the region, by encouraging China’s neighbors to pursue territorial claims against it.
The fundamental disagreement about the South China Sea is likely to be raised at the coming Strategic & Economic Dialogue talks in Beijing.

How Obama Has Made It Harder for Companies to Hire

Patrick Tyrrell 

President Barack Obama speaks on the economy at Concord Community High School in Elkhart, Indiana. (Photo: Tannen Maury/EPA/Newscom)
Government data released on Wednesday shows the number of private-sector job openings was at an all-time high in April. Companies, however, hired the fewest number of people on a seasonally adjusted basis in nine months. Why the disparity?
The JOLTS (Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey) data the government released show there were 5,289,000 private-sector job openings in April—114,000 more than in March. The government report also shows that private-sector hires declined by 169,000 compared to March.
With private companies advertising so many job openings, why are they not filling them?
One thing to consider is that the government imposed cost of employing people has risen. Government has made it more complicated and expensive to hire new workers.

Washington Sets the Stage for Another Financial Crisis

Stephen Moore 

Fannie Mae and Freddi?e Mac are engaged in the same low down payment lending mania of 2004-07. (Photo: Taber Andrew Bain / Flickr/ CC BY 2.0)
My 13-year-old son told me at the dinner table the other day that Franklin Roosevelt was one of America’s “greatest presidents” because “he ended the Great Depression.” He’s usually a good student, so I checked where he got this tripe, and sure enough, the fairy tale was right there in his American history book.
The textbook tells kids that the New Deal ended the Great Depression and even saved capitalism. Of course, the New Deal exacerbated the pain and financial devastation of a stock market crash, and unemployment lingered in double digits for a decade after Roosevelt was elected until the start of World War II.

The Difference Between Obama’s Recovery and Reagan’s

Stephen Moore 

On almost every measure examined, the 2009-2015 recovery since the recession ended in June of 2009 has been the meekest in more than 50 years. (Photo: Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo/Zuma Press/Newscom)
So President Barack Obama is back from Hawaii and the Los Angeles Times reports the president will trumpet his economic record. The Times reports:
Eager to stay on the offensive as new Republican majorities are seated in Congress, the president plans to take a more bullish economic message on the road next week in something of an early test drive of his State of the Union message.
During stops in Michigan, Arizona and Tennessee, Obama plans to draw a connection between actions his administration took early in his presidency and increasingly positive economic trends in sectors such as manufacturing and housing.