Friday, September 09, 2011

Alternative Ground Zero

For all the excitement at something finally coming out of the ground at Ground Zero—however bland it might be—a few more, um, interesting things were proposed in the early days of 2002 and since.

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Pics from Architizer

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Thursday, September 08, 2011

The state looks after its own

The state forces children to leave their homes every weekday morning and be placed in institutions of the state’s choosing, amongst people with whom the children have no choice about associating.

And then it doesn’t even bother to look after them—even when children of Mongrel Mob members torture children at school, including sexually violating them with screwdrivers, scissors, pencils, branches and drill bits

Disgusting.

Just another reason to hate the State.

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The BBC does a great 9/11 series

Ahead of the tenth anniversary of the outrage of September 11, 2o01, the BBC has put up a neat mini-site about the Twin Towers—their construction, their design, their stories, and what’s happening now.

Very cool.  [Scroll down for the full series]

Click the image to go to the first slideshow: How the towers were built.

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“Are we really thinking about selling 49% of our SOEs to pay for 1 year’s worth of tax cuts?”

How often have we seen quick asides on Twitter reveal the implicit assumptions on which certain commentators base their pronouncements. Take this exchange on Twitter yesterday about the partial privatisation of SOEs, which speaks volumes.

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First of all, what’s with the “we” white man? What’s with the “our”?  Since when did you or I or your interlocutor have any actual control or real ownership stake in these government monopolies? (Most of which, by the way, are power companies that should never have been placed in government hands in the first place).

Second, what’s this with the fixation on dividends? “They’re certainly generating a pile of dividends for someone?” Silly me. I thought the primary purpose of power companies (for example) was to generate power—you know, the lifeblood of an industrial economy.  The stuff that keeps the wheels of industry turning. The stuff we’ve got too little of due to lack of real investment..

Power companies, sir, are primarily there to generate power not to fund a dying welfare state.

Or election bribes.

THIS IS NOT JUST an academic argument. In simple terms (which is clearly all Mr Hickey understands now he’s had his lobotomy) the power that power companies make effects every single company in New Zealand--which is to say, it effect the lives, wealth, wellbeing and wages of everyone in the country.  That is a far more tangible thing than talking bollocks about “our” power companies at the Grey Lynn cocktail parties Mr Hickey now attends.  The more cheap power we have (and instead of cheap and abundant power, we’ve been  going headlong in the other direction) the more wealth New Zealand business will be able to generate. And the more capital that is invested and reinvested in power companies, the more cheap and abundant energy we might have.

And to put it bluntly, but not as bluntly as the blunt object Mr Hickey deserves for running with the statist ball, the more capital that foreign owners invest (since there’s blessed little real capital around “our” way to do anything with), the more power there is for New Zealand producers to use to produce things.

That’s a good thing. A very good thing. More foreign owners, more capital, more power. (I keep it simple so Mr Hickey can catch up.)

Now Mr Hickey and his ilk bleat about “foreign ownership” as if Genghis Khan will be coming down from the hills to ravage our cities, and “we,” i.e., “real” New Zealanders, have no power to stop him.  Quite apart from this petty small-town provincialism (which is what this moron’s xenophobia amounts to) this is just more abject bollocks.  The fact is that if left free to make their own decisions (an unfashionable notion, I’ll admit, amongst the people with whom Mr Hickey now sips his lolly water) the “mum and dad” investors in the first public offering of these shares will be able to choose to either keep their shares or sell to a higher bidder. Which means that the decision about foreign ownership is actually in the hands of real New Zealanders. i.e., the New Zealanders who are prepared to put their money where other people’s big mouths are, and to make these SOEs their own.

Moreover, if New Zealand investors in that initial 49% float are bought out by foreign owners, as is likely to happen when or if the shares are allowed to end up in the hands of those who value them the most (as they will if markets are kept free of interference) then those New Zealand investors in receipt of this subsequent windfall are not going to take their money and just bake it into pies, are they. They’re going to reinvest it. They’re going to start new businesses. They’re going to recapitalise existing ones. Which means we, i.e.,  you and I and Bernard Hickey (even though he wouldn’t deserve it) would be better off than we are now from this “second wave” of capital.

We’d all be better off because the country’s businesses would be getting a double bonus of two capital injections: one of which is flushed out by the first, and the first of which helps all our lights stay on. (And as far as dividends go, what do you think NZers would be receiving from their “second wave” of investments? Cookie crumbs?)

So everyone’s better off. Businesses, investors, wage earners. Even the people at Grey Lynn cocktail parties. Everyone, that is, except the moaners.

All very straightforward, really.

Now it might be objected however that any major improvements in power generation would only come about if we could harness the expertise of big overseas players. And we could only harness their full and  undivided interest if they could buy more than the derisory 10% which our sad excuse for a Finance  Minister will allow them to buy. Which is of course an argument not just for the pathetic partial privatisation proposed by this pussy, but for the fully-fledged full-blooded proper privatisation in which all the shares of all the government “assets” (sic) are allowed to find their way into the hands of those who value them the most.

But the Finance Minister is a moron too.

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Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Sheats/Goldstein House: John Lautner

xeog07Photo by Kaimar

"The purpose of Architecture is to improve human life. Create timeless, free,
joyous spaces for all activities in life. The infinite variety of these spaces can
be as varied as life itself and they must be as sensible as nature in
deriving from a main idea and flowering into a beautiful entity."

John Lautner

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John Lautner’s Goldstein house demonstrates his idea. The house cantilevers from its clifftop site out towards Los Angeles. Its spaces blur inside and outside; its materials complement the materials and flora of its site.

To blend with the raw expression outside, the interior of the house has been constructed from all-natural materials, glass, concrete, wood, steel and leather. The house does not contain any painted items, and there are no 90-degree angles in the furniture or in the house design. Even the bed in the master bedroom fits into the angular theme of the house.
    The living room [top] is lit in daylight hours by hundreds of small skylights made from inverted glasses impaled in the roof. 
    A large glass skylight opens over the dining room table [above], and in some places, entire glass walls, rather than windows, may be opened electronically. Shades for the translucent walls are hidden in the ceiling and are lowered with the flip of a switch.

Photos: arcspace

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Are you ready for the paper money collapse [updated]

Stimulus was supposed to reduce unemployment. But all it did was produce whopping deficits and a once-in-a-lifetime expansion of debt.

 As bad as America’s situation is post-stimulus, Europe’s is worse.  Stock and bond markets are just starting to realise that, as European banks face collapse under debts. It’s like 2008 all over again—but this time with a new depression recession inside  the existing one.

The power governments have to print money is killing us. The power governments have given banks to create credit out of thin air   is killing us.

Detlev Schlichter was, until last year, employed as the Head of Fixed Interest at the London office of WAMCO—i.e., Western Asset Management Company, one of the world's leading fixed income managers. Previous to that he was their European Fixed Interest Portfolio Manager. In other words he knows what he is talking about. 

And he is worried.  He is convinced that our historically unprecedented forty-year experiment with paper money is over. Indeed, he left WAMCO last year to write a book titled Paper Money Collapse.

A crisis can no longer be prevented [he says], and in any case, politicians are not listening. Try and protect yourself. That's the only sensible thing to do.

And as paper money loses its value by the day, his views and those like them are going mainstream. Here he is on Reuters the other day (and you don’t get more mainstream than Reuters) putting a timeframe on the collapse. [Click through for the interviews. NOTE: At the 2.05 minute mark you need to click play again as the video will pause for some reason.]

Detlev Sclichter interviewed on Reuters television

Detlev Schichter interviewed on Reuters Television - click image to view interview.

Second half of interview here:

Screenshot of Detlev Schlichter interviewed on Reuters

Second half of Detlev Schlichter on Reuters Television

3.      If you get time have a listen to him talk here. This is the first part of five so click on additional links if you want to hear more.


And if Reuters isn’t mainstream enough for you, here’s the Gold Standard discussed on CNBC—CNBC for Chrissake!—with participants who almost (in the absence of some sound history of the nineteenth-century) know what they’re talking about.

UPDATE: There is no way out: Why policy advice is futile, and what you should do instead.

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I agree with John Minto.

There, I said it. I agree with John Minto.

I also agree with Annette Sykes, Tamati Kruger, Barry Wilson, Keith Locke, Pita Sharples, and the lawyers for Tame Iti and the rest of the ragtag  “terrorists” caught red-handed running around the Ureweras practicing armed atrocities.

I agree with them that justice has not been done in the case of the ‘Urewera 18.’ I agree with them that the four-year wait for justice is a farce. I agree with them that if charges against 11/15 of the crew are to be dropped, then an apology is probably warranted for the way the arrests were carried out—and not just to the (now former) defendants, but to the people in Ruatoki whose homes and families were invaded based on charges that were never tested in open court.

JUSTICE HAS NOT BEEN DONE.  Evidence suppression and the lack of any real trial in four years has seen to that. Were the 11 no acquitted totally innocent of all wrong doing?  Given what little we’ve been allowed to know, that’s unlikely. Given the Supreme Court has now ruled off-limits even discussing the reasons for the charges being dropped, we’re unlikely ever to be satisfied. Any of us. But this group of malcontents were entitled to try to clear their name in open court, if they could. That they haven’t had that right protected is a reflection of the injustice of our  so-called justice system—and of the efforts of their own lawyers, who did all they could themselves to suppress publication of the evidence against their clients. (Which was damning,  as I heard for myself in open court.)  We’ve seen a lot about the ‘Urewera 18’ in the last four years. But justice has not been done, and nor has it been seen to be done.

EXTRAORDINARY POWERS REQUIRE EXTRAORDINARY CARE. The Terrorism Suppression Act was drawn up under the previous government to give the police extraordinary powers—and so poorly conceived and drawn up so ineptly the only power it really gave them was the power to overreach themselves.  Which is what the Supreme Court decided they did. Poor police practice combined with this poorly-conceived and badly-drafted Act gave the Supreme Court grounds to throw out the cases against eleven defendants, not because (please note) that there was no evidence against them, but  because  the way the evidence against them was gathered. This is ineptitude of a high order. It means justice will never be served in this case at all.

JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE DENIED. It has now been four years since the 18 were arrested. —Four years! Four years in which the crown muddled while defendants and their lawyers and their friends in the media churned out press releases, interviews and media events in their defence. In the absence of a real trial we had instead a trial by media—a “trial” in which defendants were feted while all the substantive evidence against them was suppressed at the behest of their own lawyers! (That their requests for suppression only delayed proceedings even longer puts their crocodile tears now over the delays into damning perspective.) But if a justice system cannot pull together a case in four years, while fending off the shysters out looking for a loophole, that’s a pretty serious indictment of the system’s failure.

Law is the loser today.

It is a farce—especially when all the evidence suppression means we now have no clear idea in law whether the arrests and the way they were carried out were justified or not. Only suspicions.

So I agree with John Minto, Annette Sykes, Tamati Kruger, Barry Wilson, Keith Locke, Pita Sharples and the lawyers for Tame Iti and the rest of the ragtag “terrorists.” Justice has not been done—only not in the way they mean it.

I’ve always agreed as a foundation of justice with the legal principle as formulated by Blackstone :

Better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer."

But at times like this, my commitment to it is somewhat stretched.

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Tuesday, September 06, 2011

The one fact about 9/1 you still need to know

Nearly one decade on from that day when an organised gang of barbarians hijacked civilian airliners and flew themselves and scores of innocents into two of the world’s most famous symbols of capitalism, one wonders what could be said about that outrage that hasn’t already?

Midst all the words of pseudo-sophistication and “complexity,”  Christopher Hitchens repeats boldly the one point that still bears repeating:

Simply evil. A decade after 9/11, it remains the best description and most essential fact about al-Qaida … a particularly odious group (a secretive and homicidal gang: part multinational corporation, part crime family) that was sworn to a medieval cult of death, a racist hatred of Jews, a religious frenzy against Hindus, Christians, Shia Muslims, and "unbelievers," and the restoration of a long-vanished and despotic empire.
    To me, this remains the main point about al-Qaida and its surrogates. I do not believe, by stipulating it as the main point, that I try to oversimplify matters. I feel no need to show off or to think of something novel to say. Moreover, many of the attempts to introduce "complexity" into the picture strike me as half-baked obfuscations or distractions. These range from the irredeemably paranoid and contemptible efforts to pin responsibility for the attacks onto the Bush administration or the Jews, to the sometimes wearisome but not necessarily untrue insistence that Islamic peoples have suffered oppression. (Even when formally true, the latter must simply not be used as nonsequitur special pleading for the use of random violence by self-appointed Muslims.)
    Underlying these and other attempts to change the subject there was, and still is, a perverse desire to say that the 9/11 atrocities were in some way deserved, or made historically more explicable, by the many crimes of past American foreign policy… That this was an assault upon our society, whatever its ostensible capitalist and militarist "targets," was again thought too obvious a point for a clever person to make. It became increasingly obvious, though, with every successive nihilistic attack on London, Madrid, Istanbul, Baghdad, and Bali. There was always some "intellectual," however, to argue in each case that the policy of Tony Blair, or George Bush, or the Spanish government, was the "root cause" of the broad-daylight slaughter of civilians. Responsibility, somehow, never lay squarely with the perpetrators.
   … Al-Qaida demands the impossible—worldwide application of the most fanatical interpretation of sharia—and to forward the demand employs the most hysterically irrational means…
    Contrary to the peddlers of shallow anti-Western self-hatred [however], the Muslim world did not adopt Bin-Ladenism as its shield against reality. Very much to the contrary, there turned out to be many millions of Arabs who have heretically and robustly preferred life over death. In many societies, al-Qaida defeated itself as well as underwent defeat…
    Against the tendencies of euphemism and evasion, some stout simplicities deservedly remain. Among them: Holocaust denial is in fact a surreptitious form of Holocaust affirmation. The fatwa against Salman Rushdie was a direct and lethal challenge to free expression, not a clash between traditional faith and "free speech fundamentalism." The mass murder in Bosnia-Herzegovina was not the random product of "ancient hatreds" but a deliberate plan to erase the Muslim population. The regimes of Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong Il and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fully deserve to be called "evil." And, 10 years ago in Manhattan and Washington and Shanksville, Pa., there was a direct confrontation with the totalitarian idea, expressed in its most vicious and unvarnished form. Let this and other struggles temper and strengthen us for future battles where it will be necessary to repudiate the big lie.

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DOWN TO THE DOCTOR'S: How to stop MPs and immigrants from gouging NZ taxpayers

_richardmcgrathYour weekly prescription of good hard sense from Libertarianz leader Dr Richard McGrath.
This week, how to stop MPs and immigrants from gouging NZ taxpayers.

  • NZ HERALD: “Wong's Taxpayer Spending 'Not Pattern'” - The Auditor-General says National MP Pansy Wong helping herself to taxpayer funds so that her husband could go on a private business trip was not part of a pattern of wrongdoing…
    THE DOCTOR SAYS:  Either the Auditor-General or this piece’s headline writer needs a boot up the arse. The problem is not whether Pansy Wong's troughing for her husband was part of a pattern of such troughing, it's the fact that she was able to trough in the first place.
        It's obvious from this that parliamentarians just can't help themselves—they feel entitled top lap from the trough they see all around them. And who can blame them for indulging in a bit of “self-improvement” at the expense of others when wads of taxpayer money is sloshing around within easy reach?
    THE SOLUTION: Have MPs' remuneration and perks paid for by the political parties to which they belong, and not by the taxpayer. See if the members of political parties are happy to have their donations diverted into the pockets of MPs for their own private gain.
        I think you would find said party members delivering slightly more forceful feedback than the flogging-by-wet-bus-ticket administered by Auditor-General Lyn Provost. Said MPs might find themselves strung up by their own entrails if they tried stealing from their own. Which is how it should be.
  • NZ HERALD: “Call To Sack Academic Over 'Racism'” - Auckland professor of Maori studies Margaret Mutu called on the government to restrict the number of white immigrants to this country…
    THE DOCTOR SAYS:  Hold on to your seats, readers, because I happen to agree with Professor Mutu on this one. With a wrinkle or two.
        I agree with her that the number of white immigrants should be restricted if such immigrants expect to jump aboard the welfare gravy train once they clear Customs. And here’s the first wrinkle: that the same should go for people with darker skin pigmentation.  Or any skin pigmentation.
        The issue is not their skin colour or ethnicity, but their parasitism.
        No-one who immigrates here should expect to receive public welfare payments, including taxpayer-funded superannuation, at any time.  Part of the deal should be that they are self-supporting for the duration. They should, however, be allowed to apply for private assistance and welfare if someone is willing to sponsor them. And you could bet they wouldn't be staying on hand-outs for very long under such a system.
        Nothing wrong with Prof Mutu's utterances then, just as long as they apply equally to people of colour. And to residents as well as immigrants.
        One possible further improvement could be that any New Zealand citizen who received a benefit funded by tax slaves would be ineligible to vote, but those who received private welfare would be eligible. That would encourage people to get off the taxpayer's back, and ask private welfare agencies nicely for help.   
        It's rather telling that Ngapuhi boss David Rankin acknowledges that white immigrants are "most likely to bring employment opportunities for our communities." But this true of all immigrants: to the extent they stand on their own feet, their production provides demand for others’ goods and services.
        And if it was a condition that immigrants remain self-supporting for life, only the most able and talented would come here—and those intend to stand on others’ feet instead of their own would have to look for some other nation of suckers willing to accommodate their blood-sucking tendencies.
    And, as history has shown, the able and talented come in all shades.   

See you next week!
Doc McGrath

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ECONOMICS FOR REAL PEOPLE: “Your Grandfather’s Economics”

Here’s your update on tonight’s meeting at the UoA Economics Group:

Tonight at the UoA Economics Group, we’ll be looking at a lecture provocatively titled ‘Why Your Grandfather’s Economics Was Better Than Yours’ – that is, if your grandfather had grown up and learned his economics before the 1930s.

Consider:

Today it is commonly said that recessions are always caused by a deficiency of aggregate demand (including, somehow, the present global meltdown, which featured at its inception exploding consumption). Prior to Keynes however, recessions were understood not in terms of the level of demand but of the structure of demand. The difference could not be more profound.

Keynes wrote that Say’s Law meant that  “supply creates its own demand”—suggesting  (in his interpretation of this important classical proposition) that everything produced would automatically get a buyer. But what was it that Say actually said? Isn't it true that he actually asserted that demand springs from production? The difference could not be more important.

The Keynesian model makes the engine of growth appear to be expenditure—especially government expenditure. In contrast, however, your grandfather considered that growth and recovery relies on new production—which explicitly means production by (and recovery of) the private sector. The difference could not be more germane.

The Keynesian medicine has been tried many times such as in Japan, and also in the U.S. in the Great Depression. Did it work? How did the medicine of classical economics fare in their time? Did it succeed in lifting these economies out of recession and back into productivity? The difference was real.

In other words, what can we learn from the economics of your grandfather (or, more accurately, your great-great-grandfather)?

        Time: 6:00pm
        Date:  6 September
        Location: Case Room 1, Level 0, Owen G Glenn Building, University of Auckland Business School

See you tonight

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Monday, September 05, 2011

Frank Furness, on video!

The HowToArchitect briefly presents one of the architects influential on both Louis Sullivan and Frank LLoyd Wright.

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Christchurch one year on

It’s sadly all too appropriate really that we have to commemorate the anniversary of the first Christchurch earthquake last year accompanied by news that land around Christchurch on which Cantabrians might begin rebuilding is still being held up by council planners—not one of whom has had the brain power to realise that (especially) when land is in short supply, they should get their dirty paws off it.

Instead, their District Plans are still making it impossible to build.

Never mind all pseudo sympathy and hand wringing from Christchurch’s dictatoriat. Never mind the fine words.  If results had been as forthcoming as tea, sympathy and ill-founded “visions,” Cantabrians might already have been able to begin putting the disaster behind them. Instead, rather than helping Cantabrians to recover, the authorities have been doing everything they can to hinder them.

Let’s make it simple. Let’s start with a simple goal. Let’s look at one concrete goal they can work towards: Forget the grand plans and the top-down great visions: their first goal for recovery should be allowing the production of $50,000 serviced lots. As Hugh Pavletich has been saying ever since the quake:

The Christchurch earthquake recovery will be ALLOWED to start, when CERA / Central Government sorts out the lunatic land supply situation.
How much longer does this political / regulatory lunacy have to be tolerated? Isn’t in excess of 12 months of dithering enough?
There should have been $50,000 serviced lots available for displaced residents well before now.

He’s absolutely right. Christchurch’s recovery won’t even be able to begin until would-be home owners are able to build on serviced lots costing them no more than $50,000. It’s the only way their finances are going to work—which is to say, the only way the city is going to begin rebuilding: by the people of the city rebuilding.

This is only the bare minimum of first steps. That we are one year down the track and not even on that path at all is killing. I suspect the only way it will ever happen is for town planners to feel Roger Sutton’s boot up their arse, so that land owners can get on with producing the supply to meet the urgent demand unencumbered by ridiculous, anachronistic ideas of town planning that never suited the city when they were first written, and they sure as hell don’t suit it now that city has disappeared.

Get the hell out of their way.

The Point of Maximum Pessimism

_Kris_SayceGuest Post by Kris Sayce of Money Morning Australia

Phew! What an exhausting month.

On the last day of July, the S&P/ASX 200 index closed at 4,424 points.

On 9 August the index reached an intra-day low of 3,765 points.

At the close of trade on Wednesday the index closed at 4,296.

As you can see on the logarithmic chart below, the stock market action this month has been the most volatile this year:

stock market chartSource: CMC Markets Stockbroking

In fact, for a similar sized percentage move you have to go back to April last year. Funnily enough, that too marked the approximate end of a period of U.S. Federal Reserve money-printing.

And now the market is waiting for the next central bank move.

Not surprisingly, the market has gone all topsy-turvy.

What’s good is bad, and bad is good

Economic news that’s normally seen as positive is now seen as negative. Why? Because the market fears it may stop the Fed from printing money.

Not only that, but bad economic news is cheered… because it increases the chances of money-printing… and that’s seen as a good sign for the markets and the economy.

For example, this from Bloomberg News:

The dollar rallied, Treasuries rose and U.S. stocks swung between gains and losses, as the manufacturing report bolstered optimism in the economy while dimming prospects for more monetary stimulus from the Federal Reserve.

It’s crazy. Positive news should be positive for stocks. But these days, that ain’t always the case.

The only explanation we can come up with is this…

A genuinely self-sufficient market will take months and possibly years to recover and grow. But – and here’s the key – it will be sustainable growth.

By contrast, a central-bank-induced “recovery” will hit the markets right now, like a big shot of coffee. But – and here’s another key – it’s not sustainable. Just as the effects of previous stimulus soon wear off, so will this one.

And traders who have gotten into the market on the basis of more stimulus know this. That’s why they’re getting out on any signs of positive economic news.

However, they needn’t be so nervous. Because we’ve got some news for them…

Fed meddling is certain

Action by the U.S. Federal Reserve is almost guaranteed. Meddling is what these guys live for. But we understand traders’ nervousness. When they’re punting with huge leveraged bets the last thing they want is to be in the market while other traders are selling out.

That’s what’s making the market hyper-volatile.

And if you’re in any doubt about the impact of stimulus on the real economy, it’s worth noting the following quote from the Financial Times. Because not everyone is happy about the outlook for the economy:

In many countries, the surveys of purchasing managers produced the lowest readings of manufacturing activity, orders and jobs since mid-2009, when the world economy was crawling out of recession.

To us, the situation is clear: for as long as policymakers continue to meddle and try to boost the economy, the longer the economy will stay depressed.

Yes, it may help the stock market in the short term by artificially inflating prices. But long term, it will do no more than disappoint investors.

And eventually investors will get so used to the post-stimulus disappointment they’ll forget to get excited about the stimulus beforehand. That’s when you’ll know the market is at the depths of the depression.

And that’s when the market will be at a genuine bargain price. Famous investor John Templeton only bought stocks when the market reached “the point of maximum pessimism”.

In 1939 it reached that point. He bought stocks. He made a fortune. But not straight away. It took time. Central bankers aren’t interested in taking time. They’re trying to bag a quick fix.

And that’s what’s creating the volatility and distortions in the market.

So right now, some individual stocks are at “maximum pessimism” prices and are worth buying. But the market as a whole isn’t.

That will only come when investors are no longer fooled by the magic charms of central bankers.

Until then, the action you’re seeing now is nothing more than a trading market. That’s great for traders. And great for punters. But it’s not so good for the conservative investor who’s just trying to save for retirement.

And by our estimates, it seems the market is set to stay this way for a while yet.

Cheers.
Kris
Money Morning Australia

Gibson Guitars attacked

What do Chet Atkins, Duane Allman, Jerry Garcia, Chuck Berry, Charlie Christian, Sheryl Crow, Bob Dylan, Al di Meola, The Edge, the Everly Brothers, Billy Gibbons,Dave Grohl, George Harrison, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Joan Jett, John Lennon, Alex Lifeson, Lenny Kravitz, Bob Marley, Albert Collins, John McLaughlin, Pat Metheny, Wes Montgomery, Carl Perkins, Mick Ronson, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Carlos Santana, Eddie van Halen, Neil Young, Frank Zappa and AC/DC’s Angus Young have in common?

Les Paul 2010Answer: They all play (or played) a Gibson guitar. A beautiful thing. The quintessence of Americana.

So how appropriate then that from the United Police States of today’s America, we hear of a “bizarre and disturbing story of a US government witch hunt that threatens to to drive them either out of business, or out of the US.” [Hat tip Jazz on the Tube]

Last week, heavily armed federal agents raided two guitar manufacturing facilities in Tennessee owned by Gibson — one in Nashville, another in Memphis. The feds were not acting on a tip that an al Qaeda cell was holed up in the buildings; or that Mexican drug cartel gangs were lurking inside. It was actually something far more serious; far more serious, that is, to a bunch of federal bureaucrats with nothing better to do.
    The raids were carried out because the Department of Justice and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service claim that parts of the iconic guitars manufactured in the plants contained the wrong kind of imported wood…

Fortunately, the boss of Gibson Guitars is no pussy.

In recent days, Gibson’s CEO has gone on a counterattack, telling various talk radio and TV news programs that the raids are an “outrageous abuse of federal power” that have unfairly singled out his company, perhaps for political reasons.
    “There’s no doubt we’re being persecuted,” Juszkiewicz said. “But while I was sitting in my conference room, while agents blocked the door to my office, I decided two things. One, we were going to try and fight this in court. Secondly, we were going to give this issue visibility.”

Keep watching.

Meanwhile, a guitar gently weeps.