Archive for the ‘Economics’ Category

Venezuela’s Economy Burns

Thursday, February 4th, 2016

While one of the two leading Democratic contenders for President openly calls for socialism, let’s check in on how one socialist paradise is doing:

The only question now is whether Venezuela’s government or economy will completely collapse first.

The key word there is “completely.” Both are well into their death throes. Indeed, Venezuela’s ruling party just lost congressional elections that gave the opposition a veto-proof majority, and it’s hard to see that getting any better for them any time soon — or ever. Incumbents, after all, don’t tend to do too well when, according to the International Monetary Fund, their economy shrinks 10 percent one year, an additional 6 percent the next, and inflation explodes to 720 percent. It’s no wonder, then, that markets expect Venezuela to default on its debt in the very near future. The country is basically bankrupt.

Inflation has gotten so bad that Venezuelans are now paying more than 1000 bolivars to the dollar on the black market. Which is why the government is flying in planeloads of money. As P. J. O’Rouke said of similar hyperinflation in Nicaragua’s own socialist paradise economy: “You have to go to Moscow University two or three times to make money worth this little.”

But with the opposition party having defeated the socialists in parliamentary elections, they can turn things around, right? Well…

Socialist president Nicolas Maduro has changed the law so the opposition-controlled National Assembly can’t remove the central bank governor or appoint a new one. Not only that, but Maduro has picked someone who doesn’t even believe there’s such a thing as inflation to be the country’s economic czar. “When a person goes to a shop and finds that prices have gone up,” the new minister wrote, “they are not in the presence of ‘inflation,’ ” but rather “parasitic” businesses that are trying to push up profits as much as possible. According to this — let me be clear — “theory,” printing too much money never causes inflation. And so Venezuela will continue to do so. If past hyperinflations are any guide, this will keep going until Venezuela can’t even afford to run its printing presses anymore — unless Maduro gets kicked out first.

But for now, at least, a specter is haunting Venezuela — the specter of failed economic policies.

Philip K. Dick once noted that reality is that which, if you ignore it, doesn’t go away. Socialists may not believe in hyperinflation, but hyperinflation very much believes in socialism…

LinkSwarm for February 1, 2016

Monday, February 1st, 2016

The Iowa Caucuses are today! Why they’re Monday rather than the usual Tuesday, I couldn’t tell you. (And speaking of elections, today is your last day to register to vote in the March 1 Texas primary.)

Here’s a LinkSwarm with more than a dollop of presidential election news:

  • ObamaCare is an exercise in moving goalposts:

    Back in 2015 the CBO estimated 21 million Obamacare enrollees in 2016. They are now estimating 13 million will sign up this year. How many will actually sign up is not going to be known for another year or so, but I wouldn’t particularly bet on it being more than 21 million, and I wouldn’t particularly counsel against thinking that it’ll be less than 13 million.

    Oh, the news gets better. The original claim that 11 million people signed up for Obamacare in 2015 has likewise been revised by this report, which now apparently reports 9.5 million. And here’s something that will really reassure folks worried about our deficits: the original assumption was that there would be 15 million subsidized plans and 6 million unsubsidized ones in 2015, or 71%/29%. The actual totals were 11 million subsidized, 2 million unsubsidized, or 85%/15%. Let me put it a different way: the Obama administration has managed to somehow simultaneously drastically miss their signup goals AND do so in a way where there won’t even a commensurate savings for taxpayers.

  • “The Clintons have made careers of defying our assumptions about how low they can go.”
  • Hillary’s emails disqualify her from the presidency. “There is near certainty that at least the Russians and the Chinese but also the Iranians and North Koreans were reading all incoming and outgoing email to Hillary in real time from almost the moment she hooked up her ‘home brew’ server.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • More on the subject by Guy Benson at Townhall.
  • Bernie Sanders: The bum who wants your money. “Despite a prestigious degree, however, Sanders failed to earn a living, even as an adult. It took him 40 years to collect his first steady paycheck — and it was a government check.”
  • Republicans are more engaged in Iowa than Democrats.
  • Jim Geraghty offers up a forest of links why each of Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Marco Rubio can win or lose tonight.
  • Ace of Spades is shocked, shocked that the Republican establishment is trying to take out Ted Cruz to help Marco Rubio.
  • Financial heavy hitter Sheldon Adelson is backing Cruz. (Hat tip: Conservatives4TedCruz.)
  • Watch Cruz turn around an Iowa farmer hostile over ethanol subsidies.
  • “If there is anyone with a chance of underperforming his 28 percent of the electorate (again, the new Register number), it is Trump. And if Trump does underperform, the question will be whether he falls enough for Cruz to catch him.” (Hat tip: Conservatives4TedCruz.)
  • Trump does poorly among Republicans with college degrees, but well among those with less education. “He is continually the candidate not only with the highest very favorable rating, but the highest very unfavorable rating. He is utterly unacceptable to a very significant portion of the Republican electorate.”
  • “Why there are so many things with titles like ‘Why I still believe Donald Trump will never be president.'”
  • “Jeb Bush kicks off 3 state farewell tour.”
  • Enivironmentalist predictions from 1970: “Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions.” (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • EU goes out of the way to insist that widespread sexual assault by Islamic men in Cologne had nothing to do with Islamic ‘refugees.’
  • Another day, another 100 Nigerians killed by Boko Haram.
  • Finland farked.
  • Tips for non-western immigrants to America. “Perhaps this little rhyme can help: To live here in the West, God willing, just say no to honor killing.”
  • A whole lot of hedge funds are shorting the Yuan.
  • Larry Correia reports from the SHOT show.
  • The last gunsmith. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Remembering Marvin Minsky, and how he cited Hayek in some of his work.
  • “Muslim Uber driver attacks pregnant woman’s service dog.”
  • LinkSwarm for January 15, 2016

    Friday, January 15th, 2016

    We’ll start with a couple by Mark Steyn:

  • “Hillary Clinton is now telling lies about her lies.”
  • Steyn also went to a Trump rally, and discovered how Trump is wowing crowds as an un-politician. “He moved the meter on the ‘war on women’, too. Mrs Clinton pulled out the card, and Trump flung it right back in her face with her sleazy sociopath of a husband’s four decades of abuse against vulnerable women.”
  • “These mostly disgruntled voters are turning away from their Democrat roots.”
  • The puzzling thing about the democrats’ push on gun control: Why gun control, and why now? “Unpopular as it is, gun control may be as good as they’ve got.”
  • Luntz focus group overwhelmingly says that Ted Cruz won last night’s debate.
  • Cruz also won the coveted Duck Dynasty primary.
  • Really, Jeb Bush’s path to victory requires Lindsay Graham’s endorsement? I’m sure in much the same way the Houston Texan’s plans involved Brian Hoyer leading them to the Superbowl…
  • Why Marco Rubio’s campaign is like trying to defend Europe in Risk. Points for geekiness and truth…
  • “The participation of Muslim migrants in the rape jihad is, of course, the fact most desperately suppressed by German officials.”
  • Obama (and Polifact) are lying about guns.
  • Even the New York Times notices that Obama is the best salesman the firearms industry ever had.
  • Now this is an opening paragraph:

    The annual State of the Union pageant is a hideous, dispiriting, ugly, monotonous, un-American, un-republican, anti-democratic, dreary, backward, monarchical, retch-inducing, depressing, shameful, crypto-imperial display of official self-aggrandizement and piteous toadying, a black Mass during which every unholy order of teacup totalitarian and cringing courtier gathers under the towering dome of a faux-Roman temple to listen to a speech with no content given by a man with no content, to rise and to be seated as is called for by the order of worship — it is a wonder they have not started genuflecting — with one wretched representative of their number squirreled away in some well-upholstered Washington hidey-hole in order to preserve the illusion that those gathered constitute a special class of humanity without whom we could not live.

  • How the media distorts and suppresses news to avoid mentioning Muslims involved in rape.
  • Al Jazeera turns out to be every bit as popular as Air America.
  • Jihadists murder 15 at that Satanic outpost of Western imperialism, a polio vaccination center.
  • That Iraqi “refugee” arrested in Houston on terrorism charges is every bit as big a winner as you would expect him to be.
  • Obama Administration blocks visa waiver reform to appease Iran. One wonders what this administration wouldn’t do to appease Iran…
  • China’s debt is $28 trillion? Ho boy, we’re boned…
  • Anglicans suspend communion with Episcopalians for three years over same-sex marriage. This is kind of a big deal. (Hat tip: The Corner
  • Damn Millennials won’t show up to work on time. Or get off my lawn…
  • How Star Wars conquered the galaxy. Or, more specifically, how Star Wars action figures did… (Hat tip: The Goldberg File.)
  • You know, if you’re a sitting Texas Supreme Court Justice running for reelection, it’s probably not going to help you win Texas Republican voters if you do robocalling demonizing Michael Quinn Sullivan. Especially when the call goes to Michael Quinn Sullivan. (Hat tip: Push Junction.)
  • So $200 million for the Playboy mansion, the bunnies aren’t included, and I can’t even kick out Hugh Hefner? What’s the point?
  • Mapping the bushy-tailed menace.
  • Remember All That “Peak Oil” Bunk?

    Thursday, January 14th, 2016

    Remember those predictions of “peak oil” certain economists/ environmentalists were pushing last decade? The idea that oil production would soon peak, supplies would soon dwindle, and gas prices would rise into the stratosphere? (And, not so incidentally, this was the reason we had to hand out billions of dollars in green subsidies for renewable energy to companies that just happened to be connected to Democratic Party bigshots.)

    Back in 2008, I remember a senior New York editor telling me that science fiction convention attendance would continue dwindling because “gas prices will never go down again.” Peak oil was treated as an ironclad inevitability second only to global warming.

    Yeah. Not so much.

    “They’ve been talking about a peak in the global production of oil for the last two decades now and it still hasn’t happened, and I think the reality is that they are going to remain wrong going forward.”

    In fact, thanks to improved technology, fracking, shale oil, and declining demand, quite the opposite has occurred, as a worldwide glut has oil down near $30 a barrel.

    Once again the market has proven much better at adaptation than erroneous neo-Malthusian thinking. Anyone telling you they know exactly how things will unfold should be treated with severe skepticism.

    The future’s not ours to see…

    LinkSwarm for December 28, 2015

    Monday, December 28th, 2015

    I hope everyone had a merrier Christmas than I did. (My father recently went on hospice care after a two year fight with cancer, so I was back home helping my mother care for him.) Here’s a LinkSwarm to start your week with.

  • Inside Obama’s pity party.
  • Remember, Obama’s policies never fail, and all opposition to him is because his opponents are bitter clinging racists.
  • We live in a nation founded by geniuses but run by idiots.
  • “Many Obamacare customers pay more than 10 percent of their incomes toward coverage (and some paying considerably more).”
  • What would Democrats do to defeat the Islamic State? Not a damn thing.
  • Iraqi government forces retake Ramadi, the Anbar province city the Islamic State took in May.
  • “Two weather occurrences – the Arctic Oscillation and El Niño – are combining to shake up temperatures from coast to coast in the U.S., bringing springlike conditions to the Northeast for much of this month and leaving parts of the West colder and wetter than usual.”
  • 2015: The year Europe reached the breaking point:

    Adjusting for inflation, the gross domestic product of the 19 countries now sharing Europe’s common currency, the euro, was less in 2014 than it was in 2007. Widespread joblessness and diminishing opportunities confront an entire generation of young Europeans, especially in Spain, Italy, France and Greece. The economic malaise tinges everything: Young people resist marriage for lack of economic opportunity. Poorer European countries are experiencing brain drains as many of their best young professionals and college graduates move abroad. Numerous Greek doctors, for instance, now work in more prosperous Germany while Greece’s health system is in crisis.

  • Sweden tries to force a cash-free society on its citizens. Wait, did I say “citizens?” I meant “vassals.”
  • Spain continues to be screwed.
  • Democrat Jim Webb contemplating an independent run for President.
  • Pennsylvania’s insane, disgraced Democratic Attorney General Kathleen Kane accused of suborning perjury.
  • Democrats in congress have proposed a sweeping gun control bill. Because that’s always such a big electoral winner. It just kills liberals that free citizens are allowed to remain armed…
  • The left eat their own.
  • Black teenagers riot, shut down mall in Kentucky.
  • Another entry in the annals of criminal SUPERgenius. (Hat tip: Moe Lane.)
  • Database Leak Exposes 3.3 Million Hello Kitty Fans.” This is a real headline from the real world we live in…
  • Here’s a swell Christmas story from Dwight.
  • Dave Barry 2015 in Review

    Friday, December 25th, 2015

    Merry Christmas! Instead of a Friday LinkSwarm, enjoy something more in keeping with the festive nature of the holiday: Dave Barry’s 2015 year-end roundup:

  • “Wait a minute! Surely there were some positive developments in 2015! How about the fact that, after so many years of sneering judgmentalism and divisive, overheated rhetoric, we were able to have rational, open-minded conversations about such issues as gun ownership, gay marriage, race relations and abortion, so that, as a nation, we finally began to come together and … Whoa! Sorry! Evidently I am high on narcotics.”
  • “In Paris, two million people march in a solidarity rally following the horrific terrorist attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Eyebrows are raised when not a single top U.S. official attends, but several days later, Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in France with James Taylor, who — this really happened — performs the song You’ve Got a Friend. This bold action strikes fear into the hearts of terrorists, who realize that Secretary Kerry is fully capable, if necessary, of unleashing Barry Manilow.”
  • “NBC suspends Nightly News anchor Brian Williams after an investigation reveals inaccuracies in his account of being in a military helicopter under fire in Iraq. ‘Mr. Williams did not actually come under fire,’ states the network. ‘Also technically he wasn’t in a helicopter in Iraq; it was a Volvo station wagon on the New Jersey Turnpike. But there was a lot of traffic.’ A contrite Williams blames the lapse on post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from killing Osama bin Laden.”
  • “In business news, troubled retailer RadioShack files for bankruptcy, citing the fact that in the past six years, the chain’s 4,000 stores had made a nationwide total of one sale, that being a home email server purchased by Hillary Clinton.”
  • “There is troubling news from Baltimore, where the death of an African-American man in police custody touches off a conversation on race that lasts several days, resulting in 250 arrests and extensive property damage. The Rev. Al Sharpton rushes to the scene but is unable to prevent things from eventually calming down.”
  • “Hackers announce that they have broken into the Ashley Madison website and obtained personal data on millions of clients allegedly seeking to have affairs. A statistical analysis will later reveal that, of the 37 million accounts hacked, only 23 belonged to actual women, 21 of whom were Ashley Madison employees posing as clients. The remaining two belonged to Miley Cyrus.”
  • “On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton continues to have no choice but to roll her eyes over all these pesky scandals that her enemies keep dreaming up to prevent her from serving the American people, especially women. The current scandal involves the email server she used as secretary of state, which, in a deviation from government-security standards, was located in her home and had Mrs. Clinton’s personal secret password (‘PASSWORD’) written on a sticky note stuck to the front. A Clinton spokesperson, speaking through another Clinton spokesperson who was briefed by a third Clinton spokesperson on condition of anonymity, denies that the server ever held classified emails and promises that it will be turned over to the FBI ‘as soon as it has been melted down to a softball-sized blob.'”
  • “After much agonizing, Vice President Joe Biden announces that he will not run for president, stressing that the decision had nothing to do with the severed horse head wearing a HILLARY! button he found in his bed, which Biden says he believes ‘was meant in a supportive way.'”
  • Read the whole thing.

    Venezuela Says “No Mas” To Socialism

    Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

    It turns out that 100% inflation, widespread repression and corruption and endemic shortages of basic consumer goods are not a recipe for electoral success:

    Electoral authorities in Venezuela say the opposition coalition won a key two-thirds majority in the National Assembly in legislative voting.

    The National Electoral Council has published on its website the final tally of results from Sunday’s elections showing that two previously undecided races had broken in favor of the opposition, giving them 112 out of 167 seats in the incoming National Assembly. The ruling socialist party and its allies got 55 seats.

    The supermajority gives the opposition a strong hand in trying to wrest power from President Nicolas Maduro after 17 years of socialist rule. It now has the potential votes to sack Supreme Court justices, initiate a referendum to revoke Maduro’s mandate and even convoke an assembly to rewrite Hugo Chavez’s 1999 constitution.

    Sooner or later, socialists always run out of other people’s money.

    Though Maduro is still President, there are a lot of things the new government can do to improve the lives of their citizens:

    To end food shortages, the new congress can immediately lift price controls so entrepreneurs have an incentive to produce or import. The only way to strengthen the “strong bolivar,” as the late Hugo Chávez named the currency, is to make it valuable enough for people to hold. That means lifting capital controls and ending the central bank’s multiple exchange-rate system so business can get access to dollars. On current course Venezuela will run out of international reserves and face default in 2017. Restructuring debt now with creditors would make that prospect less painful.

    Which brings us to oil. Chávez used the country’s energy wealth to buy permission in Latin America—and Massachusetts; remember Joseph Kennedy’s Citgo PR campaign—for his many human-rights violations. As long as governments in the Caribbean were getting low-priced petroleum from Venezuela, they voted with the military government in Caracas at the Organization of American States.

    Chávez and Mr. Maduro have also traded oil for security help from Cuba’s intelligence apparatus. Putting an end to these trades would retain more resources inside Venezuela and send a signal that the days of government repression are numbered. Meanwhile, rejoice that one of this hemisphere’s lost countries has a chance at revival.

    LinkSwarm for October 23, 2015

    Friday, October 23rd, 2015

    Another Friday, another LinkSwarm, heavy on Benghazi and Presidential race news:

  • Seven revelations from the Benghazi hearing.
  • You know who wasn’t happy about Hillary Clinton’s latest Benghazi testimony? The families of the Benghazi victims. Funny how that “absolute moral authority” the MSM bestowed on Cindy Sheehan doesn’t apply to families of the slain when they criticize Democrats…
  • China vs. the United States: a tale of two economies.
  • Longshot GOP Presidential contenders are running out of money. “Any burn rate over 100 percent is considered dangerous by campaign finance experts. Pataki’s was 226 percent, Graham 188, Paul 181, Jindal 144, Huckabee 110 and Santorum 101.”
  • Speaking of Presidential fundraising, here’s why Rick Perry had to drop out: “Perry spent more than a million dollars during the last reporting period – July through September – while raising only $252,000 in contributions. And the former Texas governor, who exited the race in mid-September, had only $45,000 cash on hand at the end.”
  • “When you vote in your first Presidential election, please remember which political party decided to make your lunchtimes a living Hell for a decade. Spoiler warning: it wasn’t the Republicans.”
  • Some people Hillary Clinton listed as endorsing Hillary Clinton have not, in fact, actually endorsed Hillary Clinton.
  • Ohio Senate race update: “Incumbent Rob Portman (R) raised almost eight million this year, with eleven million in the bank, while former governor Ted Strickland (D) raised about two and a half, with about a million and a half in the bank.”
  • Turkish opposition leader accuses Erdogan’s Islamist government of protecting the Islamic State.
  • Criticize Islam in your blog in Bangladesh? That’s an arresting.
  • Heh:

  • Alvin bond update: “Firm in cracked stadium debacle funds pro-bond propaganda.”
  • Texas Democratic trial lawyer Mikal Watts indicited over fraud related to the BP oil spill case.
  • Arthur Miller — Communist. (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • Bernie Sanders is “paying” bloggers.
  • Emus on the loose in Round Rock.
  • TPPF: Why the Texas Model Supports Prosperity

    Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

    I could roll this up into the next California vs. Texas update, but I thought this Texas Public Policy Foundation paper by Vance Ginn on why Texas’ low tax, low regulation model generates prosperity was meaty enough to be worth a separate post.

    The Texas model has been touted as an approach to governance that other states and Washington, D.C. would be wise to follow. This approach promotes individual freedom through lower taxes and spending, less regulation, fewer frivolous lawsuits, and reduced federal government interference. Does this Texas restatement of the unalienable rights of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” actually promote freedom, prosperity, and jobs when compared to the largest states and U.S. averages?

    To answer this question, this paper (in most cases) compares various measures in California, Texas, New York, and Florida—the states with the largest populations and economic output—and U.S. averages during the last 15 years. Five fiscal measures of economic freedom and government intervention for these states show that Texas generally leads the pack as the most free with the least government intrusion. Eight measures of the labor market indicate that Texas provides the best opportunities to find a job. Five measures of income distribution and poverty show that Texas leads in most categories with a more equal income distribution and less poverty despite fewer redistributionary policies than these large states, particularly California and New York.

    Though a mere 15 pages, the paper offers up an in-depth survey of various economic metrics and studies, where Texas repeatedly comes out on top, and New York and California repeatedly come in last and second-to-last.

    A few more tidbits:

  • In a “Soft Tyranny Index” (measuring state government bureaucracy, state spending, income tax, and tax burden) “Texas ranks first with the least government intrusion, Florida 17th, California 49th, and New York 50th.”
  • “Texas outpaces the rest of the U.S. in nonfarm job creation since December 2007.”
  • “Texas’ distribution of income is more equal compared with other large states.”
  • Read the whole thing.

    LinkSwarm for October 9, 2015

    Friday, October 9th, 2015

    If you want to attend tomorrow’s blogshoot/meetup/tweetup, try to drop me a line (lawrenceperson at gmail dot com) so I’ll know how many will attend.

    Now the LinkSwarm:

  • ObamaCare co-ops are going bankrupt.
  • Thanks to The Magic Power of Socialism™ and an estimated 800% inflation rate, Venezuela is now the most expensive place to live in the world, at least going by the official exchange rate. “Depending on which exchange rate you use, Venezuela can either be one of the cheapest countries in the world, or the most expensive.”
  • Democrats last year: “All those gun-toting white racist redneck freaks from Jesusland will be lining up to vote for Hillary!” Pollsters this year: Not so much.
  • Hillary Clinton now totally opposes the very Tran-Pacific Partnership she helped negotiate.
  • “Let’s take Malcolm Turnbull at his word that it’s only “a very very small percentage of violent extremist individuals”. What is the actual percentage? In the aforementioned Malmo, where up to a thousand mostly young male “refugees” arrive each day, suppose the “very very small percentage” is two per cent. That’s 20 brand new “violent extremists” per day. During the Northern Irish “Troubles”, MI5 estimated that there were no more than a hundred active members of the IRA at any one time – that’s to say, people actively involved in shooting and killing. So Malmo is taking in the equivalent of the entire IRA every week.”
  • How spree killers get their weapons. Or, once again, the New York Times twists facts to fit the narrative.
  • Speaking of the Times, this is what happens when the professional editors and proof-readers edit and proofread professional writers.
  • Wendy Davis thinks the reason she lost is she didn’t talk about abortion enough. Sure, Wendy, that’s it. Go with that… (Hat tip: Perry vs. World).
  • The Nairobi mall attack revisited. If this report is to be believed, armed civilians actually contained the threat, then army and security forces showed up and promptly managed to start shooting each other.
  • “In zombie world, the man who relies on the government for his safety will be zombie chow in short order…In zombieland, there are three kinds of people: those who know how to use guns, those who learn how to use guns, and zombies.”
  • Remembering the Yom Kippur War.