Category Archives: Politics

Papa Francisco’s Populist Discourse and the meaning of Evo’s Gift

8/2/2015 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

During the month of July we found ourselves south of the equator in our second home, Bolivia.  It has been two long years since we have walked the earth there and much has changed.  The following are some observations made on our journey.

First off, it is obvious that money is everywhere.  From the construction of new apartment buildings to a new style of McMansions that are being erected by those who have benefited by the DEA’s absence in this country:  The Cholet.  The same increase in economic activity that we have noted in Portland is evident here in spades.  Everywhere you look, there is a new store, restaurant, cafe, or industrial park, all with the comforts of modern architecture with inimitable South American flair.

The first part of our visit coincided with the visit of the extremely popular Pope Francisco, or “El papa Francisco” as he is known here.  We arrived in Santa Cruz on July 6th, two days before the Holy See arrived.  On the 8th, we listened, along with all of Bolivia, the radio call of his descent and landing at the airport in El Alto.  The radio call resembled the call of a soccer game here, with the announcer screaming “Llegó” with the same passion that they yell “gol” when the home team scores.

As a follower of Jesus of Nazareth, we are ambiguous to the activities of the Pope, who to us is simply another follower of the same Jesus, with a slightly larger following.  In other words, we do not recognize or attribute any special authority nor clairvoyance to the Catholic church that is not available to all believers.

That said, it is undeniable that papa Francisco is something special to the Catholic faithful, especially here in South America, as Francisco  (or Francis, as he is known in the English speaking world), an Argentinian (though you would never know it as he does not seem to swear like a sailor) is the first Pope to hail from the continent.

Having listened to his discourses over two days, it was obvious that Francisco is well schooled in the populist platitudes that the likes of Che Guevara awakened and contemporary leaders Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales have resurrected.

True to the populist playbook, Pope Francisco derides economic inequality and envisions a society where all elements of the economy, the productive sector, distributors, and retailers, all carry out their daily chores in harmony with mother earth and one another.  Where every child can enjoy a happy childhood, every worker enjoy a dignified position, and every elderly person enjoy a dignified retirement.

Evo Morales, the Bolivian President, welcomed Pope Francisco with a unique gift, a crucifix where in the place of the cross, Jesus of Nazareth is portrayed as being crucified on a hammer and scythe, a symbol synonymous with Socialism.

Regalo de Evo a papa Francisco
Regalo de Evo a papa Francisco

Was the Pope offended?  Hardly, you see, the artistic origins of the gift lie with a popular Jesuit priest who made what to some is the obvious connection between the Gospel and Socialist doctrine.  There is more to the story behind the gift, which you can read here:

http://www.ehagendaurbana.com.ar/2015/07/el-cristo-del-martillo-y-la-hoz.htm

We bring the whole matter up to state once and for all that the Gospel and Socialism have just one common thread:  The Gospel, or the Good News, is that God forgives, and expects us to do likewise.  Nothing more, and nothing less.  It is the most important spiritual and natural event that has ever occurred, in our lives and the lives of countless others, for it is forgiveness and forgiveness alone that unleashes the supernatural and eternal presence of Yahweh in the here and now.

To the extent that Socialism demands that mankind treat one another as they would like to be treated, it is in harmony with the Gospel.  However, any attempt to enforce what should be spontaneous acts of goodwill towards one another makes a mockery of the Gospel and subjects it to the rules of men.  As we have explored in our economic treatise, Why What We use as Money Matters, rules made by men are incompatible with freedom, which is the reason for the Gospel in the first place.

This Freedom extends to the right to be Socialist, but it does not extend to the right to enforce this destructive doctrine on one’s unwilling fellow man or woman.

We admire the Pope, heck, he gave mass in La Paz with one lung and drew out millions of the faithful in South America.  If he wants to use his enormous platform and the freedom afforded to him by the forgiveness of sins through Jesus of Nazareth to expound upon an idyllic worker’s paradise. more power to him.

The Pope speaks to the Socialist Movements in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia:

The danger in the Socialist doctrine is not evident in meaningless platitudes spewed by its proponents, nor is it evident in postulations about goals that are as unattainable as they are unmeasurable, such as universal dignity in work and retirement.  The danger of this poisonous doctrine is only evident in the blood spilled silently over the years in its name.  For when authoritarian regimes are allowed to define and enforce such concepts on a large scale, the previously unimagined economic burdens of such a program fall upon everyone, and the end result is invariably a society that lives and treats each other in a quite undignified manner.

A side note, and certainly fodder for further debate here at The Mint, our Mother-in-law posed a very interesting hypothesis about what may be wrong with Bolivian society, which seems hell bent on self destruction despite the gifts Mother Nature has seen fit to surround it with:  The poisonous union of the lie by two strata of society.

First the rich, or those who come into money, those whom we will call the upper strata of society.  This strata of society learns to lie as a means to maintain or improve their status both within their social circle, which in turn feeds a continuous chorus of lies as a group to the populations which they enslave and exploit.

Second, there are the lies of the exploited populations themselves, who learn to lie as a powerful tool of survival in a society where, to paraphrase President Snow of the Hunger Games, the odds are never in their favor.

The union of the accumulated lies tend to make any society impossible to navigate with any form of moral or ideological compass.  For to run the straight and narrow is to be stabbed in the back, and the lies create the sad and universally acknowledged truth that no one can be trusted.

Into such societies the seeds of Socialist ideology find fertile ground in which to grow and take root in the minds of the underprivileged.  They begin to grow and, like GMO crop production, look good until one realizes that the crops are only viable with a disproportionate quantity of productive inputs, and that they leave the soil and its inhabitants desolate once the massive inputs stop flowing.

It is then that the inevitable bloodshed begins, and no amount of platitudes or lofty goals, whether spoken by the Pope or the President, can stop it.

Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint

Email: davidminteconomics@gmail.com

Key Indicators for August 2, 2015

Copper Price per Lb: $2.37
Oil Price per Barrel:  $46.77

Corn Price per Bushel:  $3.68
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  2.20%
Bitcoin price in US:  $279.31
FED Target Rate:  0.14%
Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,095

MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  0.25%
Unemployment Rate:  5.3%
Inflation Rate (CPI):   0.3%
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  17,690
M1 Monetary Base:  $2,998,600,000,000

M2 Monetary Base:  $11,991,900,000,000

Greeks are about to learn the virtues of Bitcoin

6/28/2015 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

It appears that the Greek government is once again on the brink of an inevitable default on its Euro denominated debt.  This time, however, Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras appears determined to take it over the edge, calling for a referendum on the whether or not the Greek people should continue to abide by its creditors’ bailout terms and extend their own misery or to give the proverbial middle finger to their oppressors in the north.

Monetary oppression

Greece, Where the Euro pays tourist prices
Greece, Where the Euro pays tourist prices

We use the term oppressors, for the current state of affairs has been held in place to ensure that Germany maintains a death grip on the Eurozone.  Greece stopped benefiting from being a member of the Eurozone the moment it accepted the yoke of a common currency.  Sure, it was a nice run for the entire Eurozone when times were good, but when times got tough circa 2008 the Euro handlers at the ECB cut rates too slowly, citing a tired “stable currency” bias, and generally struggled to maintain liquidity, which is pretty much “job 1” when one is running a currency regime.

Maybe the Treaty of Lisbon wasn’t such a good idea after all.

What happened next was a catastrophe that is only possible in a Central Banking/Tax Farm disconnect that the Eurozone’s half baked approach to unity has left as the norm.  You see, fellow taxpayer, in the United States of America, we have one Central Bank which runs the tax collection mechanism for the government.  This means that, with localized exceptions, the tax farm’s tactics and the Central Bank’s liquidity functions can work in an awkward harmony.  For those of us who pay Cesar annually via the IRS, this means that in a demented sense we share society’s burdens across 50 states.  To those of us in Oregon, it matters not that the State of California cannot pay its obligations (unless, of course, one is a creditor of the State of California).  It is taken as a given that the Federal Government will bail them out and the Federal Reserve will provide the cash (indirectly) to the Feds in order to do so.  Then, and this is where the magic happens, we all pay for California’s misdeeds via Federal taxes and inflation.

This same scenario was possible in Europe until January 1, 1999 (a day that lives in infamy) and had played out throughout much of modern history.

Not so today.  For today, in Europe, when the government of Greece hits hard times and cannot pay its bills, it has to beg its rich neighbors to the north for Euros, and accept whatever conditions they impose.  What is funny is that neither Greece nor its northern benefactors can actively emit currency in sufficient quantities to ensure their new contract can be paid.

What does it mean?

Which brings us back to the upcoming referendum.  While in our mind it is still even money that there will be a further modification of the Greek bailout and that the Eurozone will carry on as it has for 16 years now, there exists the strong possibility that Greece will “opt out” of the inconvenient currency part of the European Union.  What does it mean?  Beyond getting comfortable with Drachma exchange rates again, nobody knows, nobody has ever opted out of the currency after opting in (Denmark and the UK never got in).

The Greek people have decided that it means they are in big trouble, and they have been lining up at ATMs in order to get their hands on as many Euros as possible before the lights go out.  For Mr. Tsipras, this in turn means he must declare a banking holiday and capital controls, which is a time tested recipe for causing any remaining economic activity to screech to a halt as anyone with a brain and more than a few Euros to their name starts working 24/7 on ways to keep their assets off the government’s confiscation radar.

Bitcoins: What they are and how to use them
Bitcoins: What they are and how to use them

However, as in Cyprus, smart Greeks with a working data connection have a medium at their disposal that may ensure that their assets stay well away from their government: Bitcoin.

The mini-spike in Bitcoin indicates that the Cyprus scenario is playing out again.  If anyone recalls that event, it took the Bitcoin from relative obscurity to trading at around $1,100 before the mania wore off.  Will it happen again?

It is anybody’s guess, but here are some statistics that may help guide your own educated ponderings:

Population of Cyprus: 1.14M, pre banking holiday bitcoin price: $49 (March 2013), post banking holiday Bitcoin spike: $1,124 (October 2013)

Population of Greece: 10.82M, pre banking holiday bitcoin price: $249 (June 2015) , post banking holiday Bitcoin spike:  ???? (January 2016????)

We’ll let you do the math on the hypothetical situation we have planted, but the dynamics of what is occurring in Greece, from a monetary standpoint, are extremely similar to the Cyprus scenario.

Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint

Email: davidminteconomics@gmail.com

Key Indicators for June 28, 2015

Copper Price per Lb: $2.61
Oil Price per Barrel:  $58.74

Corn Price per Bushel:  $3.85
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  2.48%
Bitcoin price in US:  $249.46
FED Target Rate:  0.13%
Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,174

MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  0.25%
Unemployment Rate:  5.5%
Inflation Rate (CPI):   0.4%
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  17,947
M1 Monetary Base:  $2,929,400,000,000

M2 Monetary Base:  $11,970,200,000,000

Obama comes to Portlandia

5/7/2015 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

For those unaware, the Portland metro area is playing host to President Barack Obama.  While we had no idea why he is here, we have been made keenly aware of the traffic perils that await us over the next 24 hours.  Highways randomly shut in both directions, entire areas of the city impassable by car, rail, or bicycle (perish the thought).  Such is the cost of playing host to the world’s most heavily guarded human being.

Obama Ponders the lubricant of free trade that the TPP will unleash
Obama Ponders the lubricant of free trade that the TPP will unleash

After some careful research (roughly 40 characters typed in a google search) we now know that he has come to promote something called the “Trans-Pacific Partnership,” which we have heard described as “NAFTA on steroids.”  He has chosen the Nike campus, which is a mere 10 minute walk from where The Mint resides, to tout what would be his crowning achievement, a free trade agreement that exterminates what remains of US-based manufacturing once and for all.

His choice of Nike, who in a sense pioneered the practice of exploiting cheap overseas labor, has drawn reactions of shock and awe from socialists and unions alike.

First, the Daily Kos, where an author known as “davej” lays out the case against Nike by alluding to sweatshops and child labor, and feigns disgust at the irony that Obama would choose Nike to hold his rally there.  For good measure, the article ends with instruction on where to meet at Nike to stage a protest as the President speaks.

The AFL-CIO produced a video enlisting not only American workers but also workers from other countries throughout the Pacific Rim to denounce TPP as a job killer and an enemy of organized labor.  You can see it below:

Finally, Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Socialist and current 2016 Presidential candidate, bemoans the fact that a $320 pair of LeBron XII Elite iD shoes can be sold in America but not made in America.  Comrade Sanders, we admire your zeal yet find your logic vexing.

We have no clue what the TPP will do, but generally speaking, free trade is good, and will ultimately benefit everyone.  However, circa 2015, there is a fly in the ointment that makes Free Trade act as a lubricant on the once slow-moving machinery of global warming:  Debt based currency.

Federal Reserve Notes:  A License to Strip Mine the Earth

While it is fine and well the TPP will enable American consumers to consume at theoretically better prices that those that they already enjoy thanks to pioneers like Phil Knight and Sam Walton, all of this consumption comes at a steep price, both in terms of human suffering and the environmental impact of removing barriers to trade.

While we would love to appeal to a moral high ground, such as the author at the Daily Kos and the AFL-CIO do in their opposition to the TPP, we cannot.  Instead, we appeal to our own at times infallible logic on the matter.

The TPP and the associated increase in trade along the Pacific Rim that it will enable will cause an unprecedented amount of debt based currency to come into being and begin to circulate.  While most persons have been trained to think of debt based currency as money, we offer a new definition:

Debt based currency is a license to strip mine the earth, and entirely too many of them have been issued already.

Yes, when you circulate debt based currency (and on the planet today it is nearly impossible not to) by buying and selling in it, you are sending an erroneous economic signal to the rest of humanity.  When you purchase the above mentioned Lebron James Michael Jordan wannabe shoes from Nike, you simply want the shoes to put on your feet.  However, what you are saying to Phil Knight and his minions is, “design a shoe that I and 50 of my closest friends will drool over, then drill deep into the earth and extract petroleum with which to run the machines that will make the shoe, then hire labor as cheaply as possible to run the machines and assemble the shoe, kill some cows for leather, pull latex from plants or manmade processes, create dyes to color the shoe just so, and do whatever it takes to bring together the raw materials by which to bring my dream shoe into being.”

Now the production of the shoe and all of the related activities that it spawns would be fine and well were the shoes to be paid for with real money.  However, consumers, no matter what country they are in, pay for things in debt based currency, meaning currency which comes into being on a whim, and derives its value by acting as a hot potato, causing any number of unnecessary or non-beneficial activities to be envisioned and carried out by mankind on a daily basis without a natural counterbalance to said activities.

In layman’s terms, when one is purchasing a product using debt based currency, they are by no means engaging in “fair trade,” despite what the label says, they are trading nothing for something, something that the earth and its inhabitants had to be strip-mined and enslaved to create.  For the wants and needs of mankind are limitless, and, when enabled by a limitless supply of debt based currency, cause a chain reaction of 1) increased human activity which leads to 2) increased impact on the environment without a counterbalancing activity of resource replenishment, human or natural, elsewhere in the broad swath of economic activity on the planet.

Federal Reserve notes and their foreign counterparts are nothing more than a license to strip mine the earth and its inhabitants of resources well ahead of their ability to replenish them.  Mother Nature is now in the second half of the Chessboard, will we turn in our license before it’s too late?  Or will we drive nature and ourselves off of the proverbial cliff?

Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint

Email: davidminteconomics@gmail.com

Key Indicators for May 7, 2015

Copper Price per Lb: $2.90
Oil Price per Barrel:  $58.72

Corn Price per Bushel:  $3.57
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  2.18%
Bitcoin price in US:  $236.53
FED Target Rate:  0.13%
Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,184

MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  0.25%
Unemployment Rate:  5.5%
Inflation Rate (CPI):   0.2%
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  17,924
M1 Monetary Base:  $3,100,000,000,000

M2 Monetary Base:  $11,824,300,000,000

On Obama’s Immigration Gambit

For those who missed it this past Thursday, the American President, Barack Obama, announced that he was taking action via an Executive order to fix the US Immigration system.  Depending upon one’s feelings on the subject, Obama either an extremely bold step to do what the US Congress should have done years ago, or He made one of the most shameless power grabs by the Executive in recent history.

Whatever one’s feelings, it is reported that the action will allow some 5 million undocumented immigrants to now live and work legally in the United States.

In the following piece, Katie Couric frames up what has occurred:

For most thinking persons, the stated results should come as very good news, especially when one considers that it now gives the right for undocumented parents of children who do have legal status to stay with their family and to provide for them in a more dignified manner.  However, the GOP appears to have taken to extreme rhetoric in opposition to the President’s humanitarian actions.

Even the writers at Saturday Night Live seemed inclined to highlight the power grab element of what presumably will be Executive Order 13683 once it is recorded.

While the GOP position, that America should do more to protect its borders in conjunction with allowing those who are here without documents to receive amnesty, appears logical, it is completely devoid of morality and human decency.

We are all immigrants.  And failure to recognize this basic fact is cause for seemingly endless strife in many places on God’s green earth.  The right to reside on a certain piece of geography via a piece of paper and a  formal relationship with the tax farm is a construct of 20th Century Imperialism.  The idea of carrying a passport for the common man or woman only came into being around the time of WWI.

People Immigrate because they are looking for a better life.  It should flatter the current inhabitants of the United States of America that they believe that they can build that life here, as the ancestors of the current inhabitants, the immigrants of generations past, have been able to do.  To put unreasonable measures which rip families apart and deny those who are ambitious and courageous enough to leave everything behind to pursue the modern-day American Dream is not only wrong, it is self-defeating to any nation that desires to remain on the cutting edge of progress.

Our Time as an Undocumented Immigrant

It may come as a surprise to our readers that we have spent time as an “undocumented” immigrant in both Spain and Bolivia.  We did not sneak across the border into these lands, as one might imagine.  We arrived via normal channels through airports, as many undocumented immigrants in America have come.

Our passport was stamped and away we went, in search of pursuing our dreams.  There was one catch, the achievement of our dreams in these places was to take a good deal more than the 90 days supposedly allotted us on our visitor’s visa.  As such, we went to the immigration authorities of the respective countries and began the long and expensive road to legitimizing our status through a process that can only be described as a colossal waste of time and effort for all involved.

In Spain, we waited all morning in a cue only to arrive at the window 6 hours later to submit our application.  When we arrived, we were told to wait some more.  Amazingly, they did not even give us the dignity of a lavatory and, after the seven hour ordeal, our bladder was in rough shape.

Once our school was done, we were fortunate enough to land a job with an American company, Sara Lee, and we thought our immigration troubles were over.  However, after waiting in two similar cues over the course of seven months and still not being able to begin work as we waited on the Spanish bureaucracy to process our application, we’d had enough.  The process was ludicrous, and we parted for Bolivia with our bride to be.

In Bolivia, the process did not involve as many cues, but it did involve some nervous periods of time when our passport was sequestered for weeks on end to be “translated.”

Perhaps the most blatant example of the sham of Immigration processes was their requirement that we obtain an “International Criminal Record” from an organization next door called “Interpol.”  Once inside, the kind gentlemen at Interpol would give you two options.  Option one, which carried a cost of 10 Bolivianos (roughly $1.50) would render a “Criminal check” in about a week.  However, there was another, slightly more expensive option, running around 100 Bolivianos, which would render a “Criminal check” on the spot.

Naturally, the more expensive and necessarily less thorough 100 Boliviano International criminal check was the more popular choice.

The point of recounting our struggles with Immigration abroad is this:  There are many people living within our borders who desperately want to do the right thing and legitimize their status.  However, they do not have 5 to 10 years to put their life and ambitions on hold wait for their fate to be decided by some sort of visa lottery or bureaucratic process.  All the while living peaceful, productive lives with the constant fear that it could all be taken away on a whim.

The Immigration system is not just, it is inhumane and a great impediment to the further progress of the United States of America or any Country that puts politics and nationalism ahead of people.  If President Obama has taken steps to remedy this stain on America, then he has done a great service to 5 million human beings who can now live their lives without fear.  If he had to sidestep a political process to do this, then the true problem lies in the political process, not in the actions of one who is acting with humane intent.

 

A Conversation with Ben Bernanke

11/23/2014 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

At the 2014 Association of Financial Professionals Annual Conference in Washington D.C. there were a number of incredibly insightful sessions. Perhaps the most interesting, at least on the playbill, was the opening general session, which featured Ben Bernanke, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve.

bernanke_benBernanke is on tour selling his upcoming 2015 book, a memoir focused on his front row seat and actions during the Financial Crisis, for which he has received an advance of roughly $8 million.

He took the opportunity to speak to over 5,000 members of the AFP, ourselves included, on November 2, 2014 in Hall E of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC.

Bernanke addressed the audience for approximately 30 minutes in what, for the most part, appeared to be an apologetic for the actions of the Federal Reserve and other major actors who found themselves in the middle of the Financial Crisis.

The final 60 minutes of the session were much more interesting as the presentation changed in format to that of an interview conducted by Bernanke’s friend and former Princeton and Federal Reserve Colleague, Alan S. Blinder. We will have more insights from Blinder later in this series of AFP sessions on The Mint.

You can hear a large portion of the conversation between Bernanke and Blinder by listening to the audio file below:

On AIG: At minute 11:30 – Bernanke observes that the only “True Bailout” performed by the government during the Financial crisis was that of AIG. He observed that AIG was like an unregulated hedge fund. They doubled down by taking the cash they received from insuring the CDO’s against the risk of default and purchasing those same CDOs, essentially leaving them with double exposure to the CDO market. There was a sense that they were either not doing proper risk management or that their actions were cynical. Bernanke was most irritated by the AIG bailout of all of the actions that were taken to stave off the Financial Crisis.

On His scariest moment during the crisis: The Tuesday that they went to Congress to propose TARP when some of the largest firms under pressure. Not unsurprisingly, Bernanke maintains that TARP was good policy under the circumstances, and it gave the Fed the legal authority to take many of the actions that, in Bernanke’s opinion, staved off the total collapse of the financial system.

On Lehman Brothers: There was no legal way to save Lehman Brothers. At 7:00 he addresses this. There was not buyer for Lehman Brothers, and at the time, everybody was pulling away from Lehman, and the firm would have collapsed with a week anyway.

On Quantitative Easing: At minute 16, Blinder brings up the fact that Bernanke lobbied for a time for the series of programs which were known as “Quantitative easing” to be called “Credit easing” in order to distinguish it from the actions previously taken by the Bank of Japan. The key difference being that while the Bank of Japan pumped funds directly into the banks as reserves, the Fed was creating liquidity to the system as a direct actor in the credit markets.

{Editor’s Note:  Those interested in satire can see our 2010 rendition of the Bare Naked Ladies hit If I had a Million Dollars as sung by Ben Bernanke, inspired by the early rounds of QE here}

On the stock vs. flow theory: Around minute 21, Blinder and Bernanke move into a conversation about the “stock” versus the “flow” view of the Fed’s balance sheet. The key difference being that those holding the stock (meaning money stock) view look at the Fed’s balance sheet as it actually is to infer the effects that the Fed is having on monetary policy, while those that hold to the “flow” view, namely almost everyone on Wall Street, look at the Fed’s buying and selling of assets to infer the effects.

Bernanke is a strict adherent to the stock view, and wonders what will happen if and when the Fed looks to unwind its Balance sheet at a future date.

For those who followed the Financial Crisis closely, Bernanke offers his own, less guarded take of the events in the interview, which we assume will be a precursor for the contents of his upcoming memoir.

One of the stark takeaways that we are compelled to pass on to our readers is the following: Bernanke’s assertions that the Fed did not have the legal authority to save the financial system until TARP was passed. TARP was essentially railroaded through Congress on the advice of then Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. While it may have been the expedient thing to do at the time, it is unclear whether it was a good idea to give the Federal Reserve and the Treasury (for they work in tangent with one another) the authority to backstop the financial system.

It is a question that is still waiting to be answered today, on the eve of yet another great inflation event.

Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint

Key Indicators for November 23, 2014

Copper Price per Lb: $3.07
Oil Price per Barrel (WTI):  $76.45

Corn Price per Bushel:  $3.72
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  2.32%
Bitcoin price in US: $367.00
FED Target Rate:  0.10%
Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,282

MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  0.25%
Unemployment Rate:  5.8%
Inflation Rate (CPI):  0.0%
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  17,810
M1 Monetary Base:  $2,758,900,000,000

M2 Monetary Base:  $11,585,100,000,000

Catalunya Employs Classic Democracy as Oregon Taxes Weed

11/9/2014 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

For those among our readership who do not follow Spanish Politics, Catalunya, the region of Spain most easily recognized by its leading city, Barcelona, held a vote on two matters of the utmost importance to the Catalans. The questions were posed in the following manner:

1) Do you want Catalunya to be a State?

2) Do you want that State be Independent?

The vote today in Catalunya, of which 80.72% voted “yea” on both questions, was not sanctioned or recognized by the Spanish government in Madrid, other than to say it was nothing more than propaganda.

According to The Guardian, roughly 2 million of the 5.4 million persons who were eligible to vote cast a ballot today, a roughly 37% turnout, which means that today, roughly 32.3% of those living in Catalunya took the time to submit a symbolic ballot in favor of their Independence from Spain. For a quick comparison of this figure, 68.9% of eligible voters cast a ballot in Spain’s last General Election in November of 2011.

L'Estelada Blava
L’Estelada Blava

While voter turnout today in Catalunya may not seem impressive on the surface, it takes on more meaning when one considers that, as it was unsanctioned by the Spanish Government, over 40,000 volunteers took it upon themselves to receive and count the ballots.

The Catalans have employed what we call Classic, or Grass-roots, Democracy in an effort to allow their citizens to determine in a civilized manner the most basic of questions with regards to self governance: Shall we, as a region, be Independent?

Admittedly, Catalunya is in a unique position to do so. Most regions, for which Independence is more a romantic idea than a practical one (the most recent example being Scotland’s referendum to break ties with the UK), have much to lose and little to gain by declaring Independence. Catalunya, on the other hand, is essentially self-sufficient and for them, remaining part of Spain has little upside.

For a time, the argument could be made that Spain provided Catalunya access to markets that it otherwise could not have sold into. Today, this is a non-issue, as the EU trade agreements would continue to cover an Independent Catalan State.

The Spanish Government has a big problem. While Spanish officials are swiftly and publicly denouncing the Catalans for holding what, in their mind, had already been declared an “illegal” vote, the Catalans have cleverly and very publicly made a mockery of what passes today as “Democracy” in the Sovereign States of the world who embrace this model of governance.

For what is Democracy if not the people’s right to self determination? Yet modern democracy for most boils down to questions of which hand picked candidate will occupy an embedded power structures, and whether or not to increase the existing tax and regulatory burdens imposed by this power structure.

With today’s actions, the Catalans struck at the heart of the existing system. Our guess is that one day, they and many other regions in similar situations will enjoy sovereign status as peers to their former oppressors in the EU.

Throwing off the EU’s chains, however, would be a matter settled by arms, as the French, American, and every other successful revolution against the clutches of Empire have shown. It is not the nature of Empire to negotiate or put to vote matters of self-determination.

Oregon Taxes Weed

In our local elections, our fellow Oregonians chose to decriminalize marijuana. Joining them were the people of Washington, DC, making a total of four jurisdictions in the US that have changed the innocuous plant from a huge drain on tax revenue to a potential source of revenue with the stroke of a pen.

Weed: It got your parents kicked out of school, now it can pay for yours.

Which way did The Mint vote on the issue? We didn’t. You can read our reasons for abstaining from voting on State and Federal Matters in the links below:

Ballot Burning, Our Breaking Point, and Why the Next Gold Rush Just Began (notice the reference to Catalunya’s Independence preparations)

Three Reasons Why We’ve Stopped Voting, The Trail of Tears

The Silent Majority, Why No One Will Win the 2012 Presidential Election

As the Catalans have seen in the case of the Spanish, government, once it exceeds a certain size, ceases to serve the people who created it and becomes at best parasitic and at worst, antagonistic and violent as it increasingly resorts to the use of force in an effort to advance a failed system.

Can Catalunya peacefully remove the yoke?

Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint

Key Indicators for November 9, 2014

Copper Price per Lb: $3.07
Oil Price per Barrel (WTI):  $79.02

Corn Price per Bushel:  $3.67
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  2.31%
Bitcoin price in US: $361.80
FED Target Rate:  0.09%
Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,179

MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  0.25%
Unemployment Rate:  5.8%
Inflation Rate (CPI):  0.1%
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  17,574
M1 Monetary Base:  $2,939,700,000,000

M2 Monetary Base:  $11,485,000,000,000

What created the Bolivian Economic Miracle?

10/27/2014 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

For those who do not follow Bolivian Politics, Evo Morales has one a third term as President of the South American nation we are happy to call our second home.

Evo Morales - President of Bolivia in Brazil 2007
Evo Morales – President of Bolivia, photo taken December 17, 2007 in Brazil by Marcello Casal Jr. of Agencia Brasil http://www.agenciabrasil.gov.br/media/imagens/2007/12/17/1840MC44.jpg

As Morales is seen as a Socialist hero, his reelection coincided with a deluge of praise for his hand in the Bolivian Economic miracle that has unfolded over the past 10 years from the left.  It seemed to start with an article from the New York Times back in February, which highlights Morales’ success and the paradox that it presents.  On one hand, he is a, well, a proclaimed Socialist.  On the other, he runs a balanced budget and has largely rejected the advice of the IMF and other financial overlords of the world:

Turnabout in Bolivia as Economy Rises from Instability

Then, a widely read article in the Guardian, where the author makes the bold claim that “socialism doesn’t damage economies,” which sparked a swift reaction from the neo-con/neo-lib right.

Evo Morales has proved (sic) that socialism doesn’t damage economies

It is true that the Bolivian economy has grown at a mighty pace over the past 10 years, however, to simplify this miracle to solitary policy changes such as the legalization of coca farming, a deeply personal matter for Morales, or other various social policies noted by the authors is to miss the point completely.

As a public service, we present to you today the short list of reasons why Bolivia is experiencing an economic miracle in the eyes of many Westerners:

  • Benford’s Law, which would account for Bolivia’s rapid relative growth. As a country, it was near the bottom of many world measures in terms of economic statistics.  As such, things tend to go up from a low level quickly on a relative basis.
  • Currency policy: The Boliviano trades tightly with the USD similar to the Yuan.  This is due to the fact that much of the country’s savings are held in dollars.  Currency stability = real growth
  • Legalize it: While the legalization of coca is controversial, the removal of regulations has opened up a wild west of trade and attendant economic activity.
  • Anarchy reigns: Ever since Simon Bolivar freed it from Spanish rule in 1825, Bolivia has had 81 Presidents and been ruled by various “Juntas” or forms of military rule 9 times.  By contrast, the US has been around for 50 years longer and had just 44 Presidents.  If our theory that Anarchy produces stability holds, it would follow that the Bolivian economy is one of the most resilient on the planet, one that cannot help but grow from a solid base.
  • Evo’s Charisma: While Evo Morales is often chided, he is simple and lovable at heart, an anomaly in the cesspool of modern politics.  He has drawn a great deal of positive attention to Bolivia as the first indigenous President in the nation’s history.  This has given Bolivia international exposure not before seen.
  • The Open Letter: While it is a longshot, perhaps Evo has read our open letter to him and is secretly implementing our policy proposals.
  • While Bolivia was extremely poor in the eyes of the world, yet rich in so many ways.

We love Bolivia, it is one of the most precious, pristine, and complicated places on the planet and we are honored to call it our second home.  While speculation as to what has caused the current economic miracle there will continue, we know one thing to be true:

It is Bolivia’s time.

Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint

Key Indicators for October 27, 2014

Copper Price per Lb: $3.08
Oil Price per Barrel (WTI):  $80.66

Corn Price per Bushel:  $3.63
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  2.26%
Bitcoin price in US:  $350.95
FED Target Rate:  0.09%
Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,225

MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  0.25%
Unemployment Rate:  5.9%
Inflation Rate (CPI):   0.1%
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  16,818
M1 Monetary Base:  $2,747,700,000,000

M2 Monetary Base:  $11,514,900,000,000