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Against Theory

January 3, 2015


I have a very dear friend who always sends me the latest scientific evidence showing that a vegan diet is the optimum one for good health. He has an answer for every objection, but so does another friend who happens to follow the Paleolithic diet, and is just as persuasive. Personally, I’m a cheating vegan, […]

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The Forgotten Man

December 10, 2012


I am writing this post while sitting in the Café Strada near the Berkeley campus and as usual the café is crowded with students doing their homework. Next to me are three young women animatedly discussing their answers to a social studies question on  welfare benefits. I long to interrupt their discussion and tell them about the forgotten man. […]

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Naive and Sophisticated Economics

October 30, 2012


Imagine a financial planner who tricked his or her clients into behaviors that were against their long-term best interests, encouraging them to spend, when years of overspending had left them in perilous financial shape, and scheming to have them sell their safe, conservative assets and instead, have them invest their funds in unsuitable risky assets. Furthermore, what if […]

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Does Anarchy Have A Bad Rap?

October 23, 2012


The other day someone tried to cut in line at my local Starbucks and although it was probably unintentional, the sense of outrage from the other customers was palpable. It was as if customers had suffered a grievous personal blow, and it was not directed at their grande mocha cookie crumble frappuccino. Their sense of fairness […]

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The Future Of Currencies

October 12, 2012


In an earlier post I wrote about the likelihood of continued market volatility as asset prices veered back and forth between the effects of monetary stimulus and the deflationary forces unleashed by a generational deleveraging event. In this tug-of-war between the forces of inflation (money printing) and deflation (deleveraging) the dollar is the medium through which […]

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A Little Rebellion Now And Then Is A Good Thing

September 24, 2012


I often have cause to drive from Nevada to California on interstate 15 and so have been stopped innumerable times by the California Fruit Border Control, and asked where I am coming from and whether I have any fruit in my car. The ostensible purpose of these checkpoints is to protect California from exotic invasive species. While there are […]

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The Unintended Consequences Of Human Action

September 20, 2012


With QE3 the Federal Reserve has initiated another massive round of money printing, buying $40 billion worth of mortgage securities while continuing to reinvest its income from the securities  purchased during QE1 and QE2. In addition the Fed has changed the emphasis of its mandate, from targeting price stability to making itself responsible for employment, promising […]

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Whisky’s For Drinking, Water’s For Fighting.

September 17, 2012


Whenever I do some serious backpacking I’m reminded of the central importance of water to our existence, particularly here in the American West. The earliest articulate description of the problem was made by Colonel John Wesley Powell (1834-1902), the famous ethnologist and geologist who was the first to run the Colorado River through the Grand […]

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Why The Worst Get On Top And What To Do About It

August 26, 2012


My wife grew up in Lithuania when it was part of the Soviet Union, so she had plenty of opportunity to observe the new Soviet man that the ideologists of the Communist Party thought they had created in their planned society.  She was not impressed and nor were the rest of the Soviet people. Popular culture and specifically anti-Soviet jokes, […]

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Eating Fried Chicken Reduces Breast Cancer

August 13, 2012


Starbucks will give me 10 cents off  my next drink if I bring in a reusable tumbler and save a paper cup.  Their advertising blurb encourages me to think of the effect on the environment if thousands of people traded their paper cups for Starbucks’ reusable mugs.  Retailers are feeling increasingly charitable these days.  The […]

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Pickled Onions and Thatched Cottages

July 26, 2012


I’m writing this while on vacation in England, in a beautiful thatched cottage in Devon, built in the early 1700’s. There’s no internet so it is easy to ignore unsettling news from the outside world, the Batman massacre, Eurozone concerns and Middle Eastern turmoil. The setting, gardens and décor are idyllic.  The cottage has seen witchcraft […]

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Bond Buyers Beware

June 19, 2012


Interest rates fell earlier this month to the lowest level in U.S. history.  The fall in the rate of the 30-year Treasury bond since 1990 alone is 65%. This has happened despite record money printing by the Federal Reserve, which many predicted would lead to rising rates.  However, in an uncertain world, U.S. bonds have […]

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Platonic Dialogues For Our Times: Part II

June 11, 2012


Optimistopheles: Pessimisticles, you’re so negative. At the party this evening I’ve told all my tech friends not to talk to you about the economy because you will ruin their festive mood. They all work in Silicon Valley, at cutting edge companies, and are convinced that technology is the solution to most of the world’s problems. […]

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