Weekly wrap

Some blogs that caught my eye last week. First is The Burning Platform with Edward Gibbon’s five marks of Rome’s decaying culture from his book The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire:

1. Concern with displaying affluence instead of building wealth.
2. Obsession with sex and perversions of sex.
3. Art becomes freakish and sensationalistic instead of creative and original.
4. Widening disparity between very rich and very poor.
5. Increased demand to live off the state

I think it would be fair to say we are close to ticking all of them. Second is Steve Keen on the RBA’s setting of the cash rate:

The graph shows an almost 100% correlation between the cash rate and the 90-day bank bill rates. However the data also shows that in almost every instance the RBA cash rate FOLLOWS the 90-day bank bill rate, rather than leads it. … This analysis raises a number of interesting questions:

1. Why do we have the RBA as an interest-rate setting body at all when all they do is follow the market?
2. Why does the RBA shroud itself in such mysticism when their actions are so transparent to all?
3. What is the quality of our economists, politicians and financial commentators that we have to go through the “Will They or Won’t They” pantomime each month?
4. How could any economist get their forecasts wrong, particularly on the up-side?

Very much Wizard of Oz man behind the curtain. Third is Mark Tier at economics.org.au with two takeways on small/no government, which speak for themselves:

“… when the income tax was introduced in 1913 no one in his right mind would have suggested a top rate of 90 percent. In fact, there was considerable support for capping the income tax at 4 percent. This was shot down by those who argued that specifying such a maximum rate would mean the income tax would rapidly rise to that (then) horrific level. Can you imagine living in a world where an income tax of 4 percent is unthinkable!?”

“On January 24, 1848, the California gold rush began. But it took eighteen years for the U.S. Congress to enact a mining law to regulate such discoveries. Meanwhile, gold production in California boomed. How could that have happened without a governmental framework to recognize mining claims, register titles, and regulate disputes?

The miners created their own. They established districts, registries, procedures for establishing and registering a claim and buying and selling claim titles, and a system for resolving disputes. Officers were usually elected, including the recorder of claims.”

Finally, we have a report by Mineweb that I think few PM commentators will pick up, but which I think is a good signal that gold is on the move into the mainstream. Mineweb reported on Thomson Reuters buying GFMS which “will enable Thomson Reuters to offer clients analysis of metals markets alongside its news and prices”. This is a sign to me that smart money is moving into gold, as they are the only ones who can afford a Reuters feed. The mass market (dumb?) money follows much later, which is when we’ll see a real bubble.

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