Category Archives: Mint Classics

The Subtle Change from Principles to Rules Part IV of IV – What does it all mean?

5/14/2012 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

Today we will conclude our brief trip back to one of the origins of the agitation which is The Mint:  The Subtle Change from Principles to Rules.

The Subtle Change from Principles to Rules
The Subtle Change from Principles to Rules

The following is the final excerpt from our soon to be released free ebook.  It will be offered  for free through in all common ebook formats in the coming months.  What does it all mean?  Read on and let us know what you think!

What does it all mean?

At this point, we are forced to step back from the mud and ponder the events unfolding in the meadow and ask the questions that are raised in the parable, for they are of the utmost importance.

The parable highlights the subtle yet important difference between principles and rules.  In the meadow parable, the activities and projects referred to as meadow improvement represent rules.  Rules are made by those who either do not fully understand or do not desire to adhere to the principles of an activity and are generally imposed with the stated purpose of maintaining or “improving” the status quo.

Once a human institution, as the meadow was to represent, makes the subtle change from being guided by principles to being governed by rules, these rules fill the meadow with “cordoned off areas” and “canals” until no one can freely move about within them.

A glance at the following definitions will help us to better understand the conceptual difference between principles and rules.  A principle, according to the Encyclopedia, “signifies a point (or points) of probability on a subject (i.e. the principle of creativity), which allows for the formation of rule or norm or law by (human) interpration of the phenomena (events) that can be created.”  By contrast, a rule, according to, is “a principle or regulation governing conduct, action, procedure, arrangement, etc.”  Making a clear distinction between principles and rules is confusing because the terms are often used interchangeably to define two concepts that could not be more different.  This is why the change is subtle.

We must then attempt to compare and contrast these concepts in the following manner:  Principles make things possible.  Principles create.  Rules govern conduct or regulate.  Rules destroy.  With this understanding, we can now postulate that, while principles tend to create rules, rules tend to destroy principles once the propagation of rules dwarfs the principle that created them.  It is as if an invisible prison is constructed by the growing threat of going to a real one.

Does this mean that principles are bad because they create rules?  By no means, in the same way, rules are not bad either, but principles must be held above the rules that they create in order for the principles to maintain their power to create and make things possible.  Once rules are allowed to dominate, they thrust aside principles and a prison begins to quickly construct itself.

This is what our brilliant local CPA was alluding to in the GAAP Update seminar when he mentioned that the word “should” in of some of the pronouncements had been changed to “must.”  For this careful choice of words is perhaps the clearest manifestation of this subtle shift in American society, circa 2012.

The word “should” bestows some glimmer of freedom of choice upon the hearer.  As in “You should wear a jacket, its cold.”  While the word should implies a strong suggestion that would do well to heed, it is understood that one is free to ignore it, albeit at their peril.  Once the word “must” is placed in the same sentence, this freedom is removed and the only thing that remains is the expectation of punishment for non-compliance.  It describes this subtle change from principles to rules that is happening in not only in GAAP but in many other areas of society as well.

This choice of words will only lead to resentment and violence in the meadow, where those guilty of stealing water rations for their parched fellow meadow dwellers and for crossing into a cordoned off area are either incarcerated, banished, or exterminated in an increasingly futile attempt to keep the meadow clean.  While those dwelling in the meadow may gradually adjust to this dire state of affairs, it will be clear to all external observers that the once vibrant meadow has turned into a gruesome cross between a pig sty and a slaughter house.

Such is the fate of a society in which rules are employed to remove all semblance of freedom of its inhabitants.  It is not a question of if, but when.

It is abundantly clear that the principles of liberty and self-determination are the only antidote to the poison of rules once they have overwhelmed the principles that gave rise to them.

And what of the deer who began all of the bounding in the meadow in the first place?  Wouldn’t they have stayed around to ensure the freedom of bounding?  It is perhaps the greatest of ironies that these deer, who so fervently loved bounding and whose activities attracted the very people who would stifle and destroy it, would simply bound to another meadow as the first restrictions on bounding were drafted.

For it is the very nature of true freedom to respect the right to freedom of others.  Even if they choose to destroy the very freedom that has been accorded to them.

If you have enjoyed these musings, please share them with your friends and family via any means you deem appropriate.

In the case that you and feel mysteriously led to contribute financially to this author’s work.  Please visit click on the “Donate” button on the upper right hand side of this page.  All donations are accepted by The Wilcox Trading Company via Paypal, are considered sales of the book and, while given and accepted in a charitable spirit, may not be considered charitable donations by the IRS.

Thanks again and we wish you all the best, deer reader!

Stay Fresh!

David Mint


The Subtle Change from Principles to Rules Part III – Meadow Improvement

5/11/2012 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

Today we continue our brief trip back to one of the origins of the agitation which is The Mint:  The Subtle Change from Principles to Rules.

The Subtle Change from Principles to Rules
The Subtle Change from Principles to Rules

The following is another excerpt from our soon to be released ebook.  It will be offered  for free through in all common ebook formats in the coming months.  Enjoy!

Meadow Improvement

The once vibrant meadow and its subsequent demise can provide us with a metaphor from which to gain an understanding of the difference between principles and rules and what it means for us as persons as we navigate together this subtle yet incredibly important cultural change in our society.

We pick up the scene at our meadow in the aftermath ofWoodstock.  It has become obvious to everyone in the meadow, both deer and persons alike, that the meadow is no longer the utopia that they had entered.  The people become desperate to understand what went wrong and more importantly how to keep it from going wrong again in the future.

How will they go about this?  First, they cordon off a bounding area, so that bounding may continue, albeit in a limited fashion.  Other areas are then cordoned off and efforts are made to revive the grass in these areas.  It is prohibited to enter into these areas until it has been deemed “suitable for bounding.”  Next, they decide to construct a canal system in part of the meadow and allow the stream to “revive” itself within its new found confinements.  Water from the stream and canals is then rationed, which, in turn, limits bounding.  This limitation on bounding, as envisioned, seems to rejuvenate the meadow for a time.

At this stage, something peculiar; a paradox, if you will, begins to take place.  The people in the meadow begin to see that, although bounding now has become a limited an increasingly coveted activity, and their other projects seem to have achieved their aims, the grass is growing and the stream is beginning to clear up.  Heartened by their success, they begin to dedicate themselves more and more to “meadow improvement” and less to bounding.

There is now scarcely time or space for bounding anyhow, and “meadow improvement” is a much more worthy cause.  Why just look!  We have grass growing where no one can bound and our canal system now provides more rations of water for more people who are not bounding.  What could be better?

The clear answer, though few people now recall, is the very reason that people began to flock to the meadow in the first place:  The freedom of bounding in a meadow!  Joyful, unadulterated bounding without water rations and cordoned off grassy areas.

Now, however, nobody dares to say these things out loud, because everyone knows that “meadow improvement” has become vital, and that bounding, while entertaining, must be done on an extremely limited and controlled basis, with a careful eye on the grass and the stream, lest the area be disturbed again and they find it in need of further improvement.

Of course the original, “genesis” deer and their principles, are now long gone, searching for another meadow in which to freely bound about.  Some who remain in the meadow are still searching for these principles and long for the days when they will bound freely again.

However, since most of those who remain were either unaware of, or in some stage of disagreement with the original principles, the “why” of the boundless joy that they once beheld; “meadow improvement” continues and the deer and their principles are idolized, but rarely sought.

Why?  A return to those principles would lead to too much bounding, of course.  And, of course, too much bounding leads to ruined meadows.

So what is the point of this tale, “deer” reader?  What can you and I learn from a humble accounting lecture, bounding deer, and “meadow improvement” projects?  In other words, what does it all mean?????

Indeed, what does it all mean?  For the answer, stay tuned for our final installment and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint


The Subtle Change from Principles to Rules Part II – From Eden to Woodstock

5/9/2012 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

Today we continue our brief trip back to one of the origins of the agitation which is The Mint:  The Subtle Change from Principles to Rules.

The Subtle Change from Principles to Rules
The Subtle Change from Principles to Rules

The following is another excerpt from our soon to be released ebook.  It will be offered  for free through in all common ebook formats in the coming months.  Enjoy!

From Eden to Woodstock

We recently attended a brief seminar which was titled “GAAP Update.”  This title, to anyone who is not an accountant, may sound like some sort of fashion show.  While I had hoped to observe some of the latest models of pocket protectors, the only thing that any reasonable person (that is you and I, “deer” reader) could observe to be “in fashion” was a decreasing reliance on professional judgment and increasing scrutiny, oversight, and more rules in the accounting profession.

In order to properly understand the above observation, we must first attempt to understand what GAAP is.  GAAP, while not addictive, should be taken in small doses.  As such, I will proceed to administer it in as small of doses as possible so that we can avoid the common side effects of confusion, drowsiness, and its other less understood attacks upon the human psyche.

GAAP, for those of you who have been fortunate enough to avoid the acronym thus far, stands for “Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.”  According to Wikipedia, “GAAP is the standard framework of guidelines for financial accounting. It includes the standards, conventions, and rules accountants follow in recording and summarizing transactions, and in the preparation of financial statements.”  Wikipedia goes on to list the principles by which GAAP is guided by as the principles of sincerity, permanence of methods, non-compensation, prudence, continuity, and periodicity.

The presenter at the seminar, a brilliant local CPA, alluded to what we are now calling the “subtle change from principles to rules” when he mentioned that the words “should” and “must” were now explicitly defined in the new accounting guidelines in such a way that it had all but eliminated professional judgment from his profession.

His statements referred to the new requirements which Statement of Accounting Standards 102, entitled “Defining Professional Requirements in Statements on Auditing Standards,” enjoined upon those condemned to his chosen profession.  Where the word “must” appears, the accountant is to understand that the requirement is unconditional and must be performed.  This is straightforward enough, and even highly trained professionals would have trouble arguing this definition.

It is the stated definition of the word “should,” which has from time immortal been the fallback for the imprudent when explaining why something was not done, which took the man aback.  For the word “should,” from now to eternity, shall indicate a “presumptively mandatory requirement,” which for practical purposes, makes it just another spelling of the word “must.”

On the surface, this sounds like a simple and presumably necessary clarification made in the name of making the writings of accountants more accessible to the general public and the ethics of the general public more accessible to accountants.

The deeper truth, the one that our brilliant local CPA alluded to, is that trust in professional judgment has disintegrated and the need for specific, carefully worded instructions that remove the need for “flawed” professional judgment is taking its place.  This should alarm us all, as the accounting profession is by no means the only field that this subtle change is taking place in.

[Editor’s note:  If you would like to witness for yourself the alarming rate of the expansion of rules written by agencies of the Federal Government, a peek at at any given time will give you a general idea of the proliferation of rules in society.]

Any institution that is organized by human beings, such as a company, a religion, a government, or a football team, follows a pattern.  Observe closely, “deer” reader, and see if you can pull an example from your own experience.  These institutions begin with some sort of principle or set of principles.  The person or persons, whom we will call the founders of the institution, understand the principles upon which they were founded and tacitly operate according to these principles.

When something is in its genesis, it is fresh and exciting.  Possibilities bound about, like deer in a meadow in early spring.  It is a thing to behold.  People flock to this bounding, this life, to simply breathe it in and to somehow be a part of it.

“Let it always be this way!” they say, “I love this!  How can I join?”

The founders may or may not have decided how one can join.  In the beginning, at the genesis of the institution, it hardly matters.  If people are not allowed to join formally, they will do so by imitation.  Such is the charismatic nature of an attractive institution which is run on sound principles.

At this stage, whether formally invited or not, people flock to the institution in great multitudes.  Everyone wants to bound with the deer, drink from the stream, to lie in the grass.

Then, something begins to happen.  The people, who were not there at the genesis, do not understand why the deer are bounding.  And when the deer try to explain this to them, the people may not understand or perhaps may disagree with the reasons given for their joyful bounding.  In this miscommunication, the principles get lost or distorted.

Nevertheless, the people agree that the bounding must continue, and increase, by all means.  They continue to flock to the meadow.  Soon, because of the crowds, the bounding area becomes a mosh pit, the water in the stream becomes undrinkable, and the grass turns to mud.

Yes, the once fair meadow full of bounding deer has quickly turned into a scene from Woodstock.

Stay tuned for further sections and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint


The Subtle Change from Principles to Rules Part I – Introduction

5/4/2012 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

Today we wish to take you, fellow taxpayer, on a brief trip back to where it all began, to one of the origins of the agitation which causes your author to pen his thoughts in an attempt to understand the world about him:  The Subtle Change from Principles to Rules. 

The Subtle Change from Principles to Rules
The Subtle Change from Principles to Rules

This collection of essays is more an observation than an explanation, which is why we so enjoyed writing it.  Over the next few days we will be presenting to our faithful readers our soon to be released ebook.  It will be offered  for free through in all common ebook formats in the coming months.

It is the glory of God to hide things, and the glory of man to discover them.  It is a beautiful, mysterious existence which we live in, and there is a tension between what is revealed to us and what is to remain a mystery.  This tension is inescapable, and the best one can hope for is to find satisfaction within this tension.  Clinging to mystery is to operate in darkness.  Clinging to revelation is to live in the past as the future races by.

Thank you for joining us in our observation of what is happening all around us.

The Subtle Change from Principles to Rules


In the lazy summer days of 2007, the world appeared to be getting its groove back.  Few, if any, were the signs pointing to the financial catastrophe that was about to unfold.

Yet despite the feeling of relative calm and optimism, it was clear that a deep and permanent change was occurring at the very base of society.  Suspicion was beginning to replace trust and goodwill amongst men.

This brief book is a compilation of three essays that were written during the summer of 2007 and first published in October 2010.  They deal with a revelation that was given to us as we were attending a breakfast presentation on upcoming changes to the US accounting standards.  Instead of fighting off the drowsiness which usually accompanies listening to accounting jargon, we found ourselves grappling with a deeply disturbing truth that increasingly defines life in America to this day.

American society, which had built itself and created an unprecedented dynamism by operating on the basis of tacitly agreed upon principles, was now turning to the blunt instrument of rules as the basis for relationships.

An understanding of this subtle shift in American thinking will greatly aid one in understanding the seemingly inexplicable changes that they see all around them.

Clearly, rules have always been a part of life.  They are nothing new.  What was, and is new, is the power that is now being ascribed to rules. In America, it was often the case that a rule would be written and modified on the basis of an underlying principle.  Rules for the sake of having them did not make much sense.

Now, circa 2012, the power is continuing to shift to the rules themselves.  While the hallmark of principles is that they are flexible enough to adapt to constantly changing circumstances, rules tend to serve as a kind of concrete for society which, as they harden, completely paralyzes anything that finds itself trapped amongst them.

Societies based on rules are nothing new.  In fact, they are sadly becoming the norm throughout the world.  Perhaps the clearest high level distinction between a society that operates on the basis of principles and one that operates on a basis of rules is whether it finds its legal basis in English Common Law, which generally produces outcomes based on equity before the law and a reasonable standard; and Napoleonic Code with its strict adherence to written rules which often has little flexibility regarding the individual circumstance that is being examined

These essays deal with the shift, then, from America’s predisposition to operate on the basis of English Common Law to that of the rigidity of Napoleonic Code, and the inevitable consequences of making this shift.

The eternal question that we present here, “deer” reader, is whether or not one will stay in the meadow once as they see this shift occur.

Stay tuned for further sections and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint


G7 Meet to Stop Yen’s Dramatic Rise and the BLS Calls BS on its Broad CPI Measure – A Mint Classic

Over the past year, the Bank of Japan has tried numerous times to Kamikaze its currency and has failed miserably.  As of the writing of this classic Mint, the USDJPY exchange stood at about 80:1.  Check today to see how the Bank of Japan has fared.
As for the other theme, if anyone still believes in the BLS’ headline inflation number, they probably work at the Federal Reserve and watch I-Pad prices for signs of inflation!

3/18/2011 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…
The G7 Central Bankers have called an emergency meeting to “do something” about the “skyrocketing Japanese Yen.”  This meeting is simply their latest attempt to combat reality.  The reality of the situation in Japan is that they are dealing with a catastrophe.  When one is dealing with a catastrophe, the next prudent step, after all of the immediate crises have been contained, is to take stock of the situation.  By taking stock, we mean that one takes note of what was lost and, more importantly, what one will need in order to restore things to an acceptable level of comfort.Comforts cost money.  In Japan, to replace these comforts the average person needs Yen.  They will either get this Yen by making a claim with their insurance company or selling assets to raise cash.  With damages of nearly $15 Trillion Yen (roughly 3% of Japan’s GDP) and counting you can imagine how the demand for Yen is, well, about to skyrocket.

The Japanese people are still dealing with the catastrophe.  Speculators in the currency markets are, as always, one step ahead of what must happen and are sapping liquidity, in terms of Yen, at a rapid pace.  This activity, taken at face value, will presumably wreak havoc for Japanese Government Bond prices, the prices of stocks traded on the Nikkei, and the US Dollar.
These three markets will crash if nature is allowed to take its course.  You see, in the tipsy turvy world of currencies, to buy a yen more often than not means that a US dollar, a JGB, or a stock listed on the Nikkei is sold on the other side of the trade.
The most sought after currency in the world, at least until the G7 meet tomorrow
The accelerated selling of dollars, as Jim Rogers points out, could cause the endgame scenario for the US currency to swiftly come upon the world.  Mr. Rogers goes so far as to call this a “Moment of Truth for the dollar.”
You can see the brief interview by clicking here.
Of course, as Mr. Rogers points out, it may be time to buy the dollar, if for some reason it is to survive as a top tier currency.  We have lived just long enough to know that anything is possible.
The G7 meeting today is VERY IMPORTANT.  It should not be, if only the world had not left the embrace of sound money 40 years ago, but unfortunately, it is.  For the G7 will essentially decide whether to keep the Dollar on life support or to pull the plug.
What will they do?
Meanwhile, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the legion of bureaucrats who are charged with cranking out data in order to support FED policy, appears to be starting its own form of political protest against the loose dollar policies followed by the Federal Reserve.  After faithfully cranking out the core CPI, a key statistic here at The Mint, for years and watching it slowly become distorted into the puppet statistic that it now is, they came out with a data point in 2002 called the “Chained Consumer Price Index” which takes into account a rolling average of food and fuel costs, which the core CPI now blatantly ignores.
This index hit a record high in February, confirming what most average Americans already know:  It has never been more expensive to live in the Land of the Free.
Will we be Brave enough to return to sound money?  You, fellow taxpayer, can take a step in that direction with just a few simple keystrokes.  APMEX, our affiliate, is running a contest.  They are giving away one 1 oz gold eagle coin each month.  All you have to do to enter is register by clicking this link and filling in the blanks.  You can register to win once per month.  If you so desire, click here and Register at Today!
By definition, the black hole of debt will always grow at a more rapid pace than the worthless currency that is printed in an attempt to fill it.  If the black hole collapses (i.e. widespread default occurs), hyperinflation will occur quickly.  If currency becomes scarce, people will find another medium of exchange, likely gold and/or silver.
Either way, the world will be out of this mess before long, so hold on to your hats, it is bound to be a wild ride to the other side!
Stay Fresh!
P.S.  If you enjoy or at least tolerate The Mint please share us with your friends, family, and associates!
Key Indicators for Friday, March 18th, 2011

US Debt Ceiling Vote to Ignite Armageddon in Bond Markets? Key Indicators all Point to Inflation – A Mint Classic

Today we are taking a break en route to Bolivia.  Breathing in La Paz is hard enough, let alone attempting to dissect what is occurring in the World economy.  As such, we offer a look at things which we wrote about 14 short months ago which came to pass just 8 short months ago.  A much ignored number which is peculiar to America, the debt ceiling.
Today, the number is mostly ceremonial but it is important to remember that the US is likely to breach the $16.2 trillion symbolic limit in the near future.  Will we have  repeat of the events we described?  Enjoy!
1/18/2011 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…
For some months now we have been wrestling with the notion that there will be a major collapse in the Bond Markets.  We have speculated as to the causes and possible effects in these chronicles, comparing the coming events to the battle of Armageddon, famously prophesied by John in the book of Revelation, Chapter 16.  Bondholders have been lured into a valley, and our guess is that they are about to get slaughtered.
When and how will this occur?  This is the subject of our speculation today.  Be forewarned, fellow Gambler, that we do not have any sort of inside information.  Rather, we rely on our own wild imagination and questionable powers of deduction.  Actual events may differ dramatically from what we imagine, and we pray that they will!
Our current speculation has its origin in digesting the reality of the upcoming Congressional vote as to whether or not to raise the debt ceiling.  In the past, this would barely have been news.  The government almost always, without fail, spends more money than it takes in. This is one of the few things that you can count on a democratically elected government to do.  To cover the deficit, the government must issue debt.  Since there is almost always a deficit and there is almost always interest to be paid on existing debt, the amount of debt owed by the government must always increase.  This is the basis of our current insane monetary system.
 But wait!  Along comes a group of Congressmen and women that either don’t understand the game or are unwilling to play along any longer.  They appear, at least from their rhetoric, to be set to vote AGAINST raising the debt ceiling (the total amount of debt that the US Government can officially borrow).  In theory, this would mean that Government expenditures would have to be immediately reduced by $1 Trillion, the projected deficit for current fiscal year, and further reduced to give them the ability to roll over the roughly $3 Trillion dollars worth of US Treasury debt that is set to mature in 2011, even assuming that it can be rolled over at 0% interest.  Both of these are plausible but highly unlikely scenarios.
As an aside, you can watch all of the dizzying US Debt statistics here.  We advise you to take some Dramamine beforehand.
However, a “NO” vote on raising the debt ceiling would make these highly unlikely scenarios not only likely but absolutely necessary.  A “NO” vote would likely trigger a sell-off not only in the US Treasury Debt Markets but also in every fixed income and equity market on the planet.  This sell-off would lead to an unprecedented amount of cash chasing around a finite number of real goods.  
In short, the end result of a “NO” vote would be a paralyzed Government and hyperinflation.
On the other hand, a “YES” vote is no picnic either.  Many of these Congressmen and women were around the last time they had to vote on a measure with such broad reaching financial implications.  Does the TARP Fiasco of 2008 ring a bell?
On the bright side, a “NO” vote would bring an abrupt end to the insanity of the present world monetary system.  A system that is based on debt, not real money, which causes the productive forces of mankind to cannibalize themselves.  After the initial shock, a “NO” vote would be a great thing for mankind.  Do today’s politicians have the backbone to do this?  Only time will tell, but here at The Mint, we believe that at this point a “NO” vote or a stall tactic (which is practically the same thing) may in fact be likely to occur this spring.  We are not alone in this boat, as back in November former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin alluded to this vote as a possible “trigger for a “rout in the Treasury Market.”
While all signs in the Bond Markets point to an implosion, either this spring or at some unspecified date in the future, all of our Key Indicators here at The Mint are continuing to point to Inflation.  It is for this very reason that we observe them daily, to ensure that our hypothesis is correct.  These are the “cards” the we hold as gamblers.  Each one merits in depth study as to its economic significance but we will spare our fellow gamblers this depth for now and jump directly to the practical application. 
At the end of every Mint, we present the Key Indicators.  We encourage you to compare them with the Key Indicators from previous Mints.  If the Key Indicators are generally higher (with three exceptions) than they have been in the past, we expect inflation, maybe a lot of it.  If they are lower, we would expect deflation.  The magnitude of the inflation or deflation depends upon the magnitude of the changes in the numbers.
The three exceptions, of course, are the “FED Target Rate”, the “MINT Perceived Target Rate”, and the “Inflation Rate (CPI).”  In the case of these three indicators, if the number is lower than it has been in the past, we can expect inflation.  If they are higher, we would expect deflation.   
You may also click on each data point below for a link to its source to better perform trend analysis.
The timing of what is to come is a mystery.  Based on recent data, inflation is walking up the drive but still a ways from the door.  If we had to guess, we would expect inflation in full force by January 2012.  If Congress pulls the trigger with a “NO” vote this spring, it could arrive quite a bit sooner.
As Kenny Rogers wisely said, “Know when to walk away and know when to run!”
Stay Fresh!
P.S.  If you enjoy or at least tolerate The Mint please share us with your friends, family, and associates!
Key Indicators for Tuesday, January 18th, 2011
MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  4.5%
Unemployment Rate:  9.4%
Inflation Rate (CPI):  0.5%
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  11,787
M1 Monetary Base:  $1,954,500,000,000
M2 Monetary Base:  $8,881,000,000,000 (this numbers stands roughly $2 trillion higher today, about the same amount that the debt ceiling was ceremoniously increased back in August.  Coincidence?  we think not!)

Revolution Fire Continues to Rage, What’s wrong with Anarchy?

For your weekend enjoyment we offer another classic Mint in its original form.  Enjoy and have a great weekend!

2/24/2011 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

Today we can hardly believe our eyes.  What appeared to be a simple revolution in a remote land, Tunisia, has begun a chain of events that may touch every person on the planet before it is through.  We will call it the “Fire” of revolution, at it seems to be catching everywhere.  The grievances of a generation are beginning to be aired in public forums from Tripoli to Madison, Wisconsin.  As you are aware, we are of the opinion that the spark for this fire began it what may appear to be a very far away place.  Washington, D.C.  
While many conspiracy theorists have their own, well, theories, we believe that this is collateral damage from the Federal Reserve’s misguided attempt to leave no debt unpaid by simply printing the money up to pay them.  It is simple enough to do in their ivory towers, but the consequences in the real world, in the form of trade and production imbalances, which are sometimes referred to as “Malinvestments,” are absolutely and totally destructive to balance in society.
The consequences of printing money are generally felt in two forms.
The most obvious form is what is being seen in Greece and now Wisconsin.  In these cases the government made promises to workers, retirees, and other constituents that they cannot honor.  The governments appear to be doing the honest thing and are effectively defaulting on these promises.  However, they are attempting to default at exactly the wrong moment, as the increased money supply begins to pinch workers in the developed world.  In both cases, many public workers are simply being asked to give up privileges such as the ability to take a long holiday at the beach.  In both cases, we are seeing sometimes violent evidence of just how hard it is for the government to default on its promises.
The less obvious and more damaging form of consequences are what we are seeing in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Algeria, Bahrain and Libya.  In these cases, the governments are not technically defaulting on promises, rather, they are seen as the scapegoats for rapidly rising food costs which threaten to drive many to the point of starvation.  These rising food costs are the indirect result of the governments in the developed world attempting to give their public employees holidays at the beach.  Naturally, with the stakes higher in the developing world, a sense of desperation has set in and the pace of and violence involved in the uprisings is markedly higher.
Today we will go one step further at the risk letting the FED off the hook for sparking these revolutions with their insane monetary policy.  That step is to postulate that the cause of the flood of money and credit which has lead to higher food prices stems from people’s unwavering faith in their leaders and/or elected governments.  This unwavering faith, which stems from people’s need to feel secure, generates an inertia towards demands for a nanny state, in which the government is expected to take care of every legitimate and some illegitimate needs presented to them by the people. 
This arrangement appears to work very well as long as the government and/or leader appear to have the means to provide for these needs.  This arrangement is also the very reason that the government and/or leader will never have the means to provide for these needs indefinitely.  You see, this arrangement generally discourages productive activity and encourages unproductive activity (commonly known as freeloading and currently justified by vague appeals to any myriad of “rights”) which eventually leads to the shortages and imbalances that are at the root of the revolutionary fires that are currently raging.
Is Anarchy the Answer?
Central Banks like the FED are simply the enablers of this dangerous “Social Contract” that is being defaulted upon globally before our very eyes.  Their motivation for enabling is that the arrangement is extremely profitable for their member banks.  When stripped of its veil of legitimacy, the arrangement more resembles a drug cartel than a productive banking system.
So if the desire for government is truly the root of the problem, as we have speculated, then would not anarchy be the solution?  No!  You say!  Anarchy is chaos and destruction!  But is it really?  In the strict sense of the word, Anarchy simply means the absence of government.  In the absence of government, people would quickly understand that they would need to protect and provide for themselves.  This understanding would be quickly followed by the realization that in order to do this they will need to deepen their productive cooperation with their fellow man or woman.
When theft is no longer publicly sanctioned, suddenly the Golden Rule would become the law of the land, with its fruits of peace, freedom, and abundance following soon thereafter.
Until people realize that they need God more than they need a government, we will watch violent struggles to fill the vacuums of power currently being created.  Struggles that often give us such esteemed leaders such as Moammar Gadhafi in Libya, whose loyal tribesmen chose to ditch multimillion dollar aircraft in the desert rather than follow his orders to bomb the opposition, and Scott Walker in Wisconsin, who apparently has not mastered the use of caller ID or plain old fashioned voice recognition.
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P.S.  If you enjoy or at least tolerate The Mint please share us with your friends, family, and associates!
Key Indicators for Thursday, February 24th, 2011

If I Had a Trillion Dollars, A Ballad From Ben Bernanke to the Banks (With Apologies to the Bare Naked Ladies)

We send you into the first weekend of December with another Classic Mint.  This was written when Quantitative Easing was still relatively new, and the Federal Reserve was on the verge of printing another slew of money.  Enjoy and have a great weekend!
11/2/2010 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

Today and tomorrow the entire world, that is, the investment world, will be watching what the Federal Reserve and its poster boy, Ben Bernanke.  What will he do?  Most money managers and bond traders are operating under the assumption that he will proceed to create approximately $1 Trillion US dollars out of thin air through a process known as Quantitative Easing (QE), which is nothing more than indirectly confiscating at least $1 Trillion worth of goods and services from those who produce them in good faith and are compelled to accept US dollars in exchange for them.

You see, Mr. Bernanke and his cohorts are presented with an impossible dilemma.  If they do nothing, bondholders get absolutely annihilated in short order and the dollar continues as a viable currency.  If they proceed with the $1 Trillion QE game, the currency is the sacrificial lamb and the bondholders get a lifeline, but will get annihilated in the end anyway.  Essentially it is the choice of when to feel the pain of massive default on dollar denominate paper.

But what must Mr. Bernanke be thinking at this very hour with so much at stake?  The world presumably expects $1 Trillion dollars.  Logic would follow that, at a minimum, what he must provide to avoid “disruption” in the markets.  You see, the markets have long since baked in these $1 Trillion dollars and if they do not appear will adjust prices accordingly.  Guessing which prices will change and when is what keeps things interesting.
Our guess here at The Mint is that Mr. Bernanke is not thinking at all.  He has his orders; the markets will wait and see if he follows them.  What he is likely doing is strumming his guitar and warming up his academic tenor voice with a song that goes something like this:
“If I Had a Trillion Dollars”  a Ballad from Ben Bernanke to the Banks (with Apologies to the Bare Naked Ladies):
To the tune of “If I Had a Million Dollars“:
If I had a trillion dollars
(If I had a trillion dollars)
I’d buy the US a house
(I would buy the US a house)
If I had a trillion dollars
(If I had a trillion dollars)
I’d buy the US furniture for its house
(No interest or payments for a year)
And if I had a trillion dollars
(If I had a trillion dollars)
Well, I’d buy the US a Ford
(And get everyone’s clunker off the road)
If I had a trillion dollars I’d buy your bonds!
If I had a trillion dollars
I’d buy some junk paper from your books
If I had trillion dollars
They could help, it’d be less you’d have to cook
If I had trillion dollars
Maybe we could put like a little collateral in there somewhere
You know, we could just act like everything’s cool
Like show off the CUSIPs and stuff
Then there would still be liquidity available to us
As if we never bought subprime CDOs and other things
They have endless liquidity but they don’t have asset quality anymore
Thanks to me, of course,
Uh, yeah

If I had a trillion dollars
(If I had a trillion dollars)
I’d buy up asset backed securities
(But not with real money I’d be a fool!)
And if I had a trillion dollars
(If I had a trillion dollars)
Well, I’d buy up Synthetic CDOs
(Yep, like a Hybrid or non-performing SIV)
And if I had a trillion dollars
(If I had a trillion dollars)
Well, I’d buy up Lehman Brother’s remains
(Ooh, all them crazy Hudson Castle assets!)
And If I had a trillion dollars I’d buy your bonds!

If I had a trillion dollars
We wouldn’t have to tax the people more
If I had a trillion dollars
Now, we’d stick to the foreign creditors
If I had a trillion dollars

We wouldn’t have to eat our bad debts
But we would eat our bad debts
Of course we would, we’d just eat more
And pad our tier 1 ratios with new cash
That’s right, all the free cash… FED credit!
Mmmmmm, Mmmm-Hmmm

If I had a trillion dollars
(If I had a trillion dollars)

Well, I’d get us out of this mortgage mess
(But not the homeowners, I’m no fool!)
And if I had a trillion dollars
(If I had a trillion dollars)
Well, I’d buy financial reform
(Ala  Dodd-Frank and Obama)

If I had a trillion dollars
(If I had a trillion dollars)
Well, I’d make you solvent
(Haven’t you always wanted to be solvent?)

If I had a trillion dollars
I’d buy your bonds!

If I had a trillion dollars, If I had a trillion dollars
If I had a trillion dollars, If I had a trillion dollars
If I had a trillion dollars…

You’d be rich!

Seriously, to enjoy some real entertainment (and to get the tune in your head to sing along with Ben and the banks), check out the Bare Naked Ladies performing their 1996 hit “If I Had a Million Dollars” below.  As for tomorrow’s FED announcement, rest easy and wait along with the rest of the investment world to see if Ben & Co. really have the $1 Trillion dollars expected of them.  Of course they don’t really have it but at least it will be fun to see how they explain it this time, that is until those $1 trillion show up in commodity prices!

Stay Fresh!

The First of December: A poem, a memory, and a lesson

12/1/2011 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

The first of December has come.  Contrary to “political” belief, the first of December would have arrived even if the large European bank which caused all the global fake money shuffling amongst western Central Banks to occur yesterday had been allowed to fail.

Nature cares not whether a man or woman in New York or Frankfurt raise a finger to populate a spreadsheet with a number representing something that does not exist but as a figment of the popular imagination.  The sun would have set and a great majority of the world would have been none the wiser, and likely better off.

Make no mistake, the actions taken by Central Banks are made for the benefit of very few to the detriment of a great many.  For this reason, we have called it Man’s Greatest Catastrophe.

The first of December always brings with it a fond memory from our youth here at The Mint. 

Some 20 years ago we were in the midst of our junior year of high school.  Like many our age, we preferred hanging out with friends to completing our assigned homework.  A winter’s evening of that year found us doing the former while ignoring the latter.

On that particular evening, however, we were concerned.  We had to write a poem for a class in which we were struggling the next day.  At the time, it seemed a monumental task, made all the more impossible by leaving the task to the last minute. 

We shared the dilemma with our friends that evening as we were excusing ourselves early in order to work on the poem at home.

A dear friend of our spoke up:  “What does the poem need to be about?”

“Nature,” we replied.

“Hang on a minute,” replied our friend as he gathered pencil and paper and began to write.  Within five minutes, he handed me the draft of a poem and said, “There, now you can stick around a bit longer!”

We were stunned, not only at the unselfishness of our friend, but at the eloquent words which he came up with in such a brief time.  Our teacher, failing to see the genius and beauty in the poem, gave a merely average grade and forced us to revise and extend it.  The subsequent revision, as we recall, severely diluted the beauty of the original five stanzas and attempted to resolve something that was better left to the reader to resolve.


Courtesy of


Like so many things in life, an abundance of solutions robs people of the opportunity to think for themselves.  Between television, sermons, university lectures, and government policies, life is diminished for many by listening to the voices of men in place of the sacred dialogue between a man and his God.

Our friend’s poem allowed for this dialogue.

We hope to one day be able to locate the manuscript of his masterpiece to share it with you.  It is appropriately titled “The First of December” and is a moving description of a wintry scene witnessed by a man who is soon caught up in the wonder of it all.  He then abruptly realizes that all that he is witnessing is occurring and will continue to occur, without his intervention, long after he is gone.

The realization humbles him.

We leave you with the last stanza which is forever etched in our memory:

“Now I must go,

But I’ll always remember,

Life in the cold,

On the first of December”


Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint


Key Indicators for December 1, 2011

Copper Price per Lb: $3.53
Oil Price per Barrel:  $100.14

Corn Price per Bushel:  $5.95  
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  2.12%


Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,744 PERMANENT UNCERTAINTY

MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  2.00%
Unemployment Rate:  9.0%
Inflation Rate (CPI):  -0.1%
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  12,020  

M1 Monetary Base:  $2,155,200,000,000 RED ALERT!!!  THE ANIMALS ARE LEAVING THE ZOO!!!
M2 Monetary Base:  $9,627,300,000,000 YIKES UP $1 Trillion in one year!!!!!!!

Mega Maid! Collapsing Bond Market to Suck Air Out of Stocks!

Another Mint Classic which unfortunately (or fortunately if you are short the major indices) is current again.  Enjoy:
12/1/2010 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…
Writing is such sweet sorrow.  Sweet because there is no lack of things to write about.  Sorrow because the financial authorities have made such a mess of things that there is no lack of things to write about, grand errors to expose again and again until we get it.  The economy has been on adrenaline for almost 100 years and increasingly dangerous doses for the past 40.  The crash will be grand and we must understand what is going on.  If nothing else so that future generations can learn from the mistakes.
Back from the big picture to the problems of the moment.  When will it end?  We know more or less how, so we must look daily for the time to approach.  Is it on the horizon?  Your guess is as good as ours so we will consider what we know.  Just when you thought it was clear sailing ahead for stocks and bonds, another wrench is thrown into the works.  We have been focusing here at The Mint on the upcoming fireworks in the Bond Markets.  Not that we know exactly how or when the market will collapse, we only know that its collapse, in some way, shape, or form, is imminent.  Two of a myriad of reasons came into focus for us today which we will now attempt to pass along. Continue reading Mega Maid! Collapsing Bond Market to Suck Air Out of Stocks!

Organic Vs Engineered Economies, Benford’s Law, and Lower GDP Growth Rates in the West Explained

The following is a Mint classic in its original form.  Can the simplicity of Benford’s law, a statistical proof of the law of diminishing marginal returns, explain lower relative growth rates in developed economies?  Judge for yourself:

2/4/2011 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

For anyone who read yesterday’s Mint, you will be happy to know that we do not recall any of our dreams from last night.  We did, however, send inquiries to members of the Arkansas legislature to see if they could help us interpret our dream about them.  We do not anticipate any response but you never know.  If anyone can help to explain it we figure it would be them.  Please do not ask why we dreamt about the Arkansas Legislature, for we have no answer.

What we can do, however, is to continue to develop our current hypothesis.  As you may recall from yesterday‘s Mint, it is:

“As a predominantly Engineered (Socialist) economy becomes less Engineered and more Organic (Capitalist), it experiences exponentially increasing rates of economic growth.  Conversely as a predominantly Organic economy becomes more Engineered, it experiences exponentially decreasing rates of economic growth.”

We will define economic growth as an increase in capital goods within an economy.  For lack of a better measure, we have looked at year over year GDP growth in the East and the West.  We say for lack of a better measure because in the current insane monetary system where debt is money and money is debt, it is arguable that what is measured as GDP growth is actually the rate at which the economy is cannibalizing itself.  But that is a subject for a different day.

For the sake of simplicity, we further postulate that the Eastern economies (China, Japan, etc.) more closely resemble “Engineered” or state controlled economies and that Western Economies (US, France, etc.) more closely resemble “Organic” or Capitalist economies.  These may not be perfect definitions on a country by country basis but the general distinction between East and West will give us a good starting point in trying to confirm or deny our hypothesis on a country by country basis.  Naturally, the US and China, the world’s largest trade relationship, should be our first case study.


What complicates matters is that there does not exist, to our knowledge, a perfectly Organic nor a perfectly Engineered economy on the planet that would be available for study.  Rather, we will encounter a jumbled mix of qualities within a country that will make it seem at once Organic and Engineered.  What we are looking for, then, is evidence that and economy is becoming generally more Organic or generally less Engineered and vice versa.

If our hypothesis is correct, we would expect to see an Eastern economy, which is moving from a state of being Engineered to a state of being allowed to grow Organically, grow its GDP at a faster rate year over year than an economy that is moving from a state of Organic growth to a state of being Engineered.  We expect that Organic growth not only creates wealth faster but does a better job of maintaining the capital that has been previously accumulated.  On the other hand, any attempt to Engineer an economy has the consequence of destroying capital and reducing wealth on a net basis.

We must say up front that part of this growth has to do with an interesting statistical nuance that is known as “Benford’s Law.”  In summary, Benford’s Law states that:

“in lists of numbers from many (but not all) real-life sources of data, the leading digit is distributed in a specific, non-uniform way.”

Benford’s Law appears to flay in the face of logic.  Why don’t the leading digits (1-9) simply occur 10% of the time, as logic may suggest?  The reason is that, as something grows exponentially, as the GDP of an Organic Economy may, the data sets produced such as GDP measured in terms of dollars tend to take longer to double from 1 to 2, or from 1,000,000 to 2,000,000, than they do to double from say 2,000,000 to 4,000,0000, etc.  The tendency is so strong and widespread that it even applies to the measurement of natural phenomenon such as earthquakes, infectious diseases, and even pulsars!  Should it come as any surprise that it applies to a country’s GDP measurement as well?

The Distribution of Benford's Law
Can Bedford’s Law Explain Higher GDP Growth Rates for Developing Countrie

What does this have to do with our hypothesis?  We are still wondering ourselves, but we think it has something to do with how the GDP growth percentage increase is measured.  For a rapidly increasing GDP number, as we would expect to see in a developing economy moving from an Engineered state to an Organic state, the percentage increases would appear greater for data points between 1,000,000 and 2,000,000, for example.  Since Bedford’s Law says that roughly 30% of the readings will start with one, as a smaller economy doubles in size, its rates of GDP growth expressed as a percentage will be higher than those of an economy moving from, say, 2,000,000 to 3,000,000.  This rate of exponential growth would decrease and perhaps turn negative in an economy moving from an Organic state to an Engineered state.

To sum it up, the higher GDP growth percentage of an economy becoming less Engineered is because the Engineered economy is starting the GDP growth race from a very low GDP number.  Logic and Benford’s Law dictate that it will outpace growth rates of the already high GDP Organic economies.

As an economy, once you’ve gone Organic, there is no turning back.  The longer you stay Organic, the more dangerous becomes any attempt to Engineer it.  The Dodd-Frank Financial Reform and Health Care Reform are large scale attempts to further Engineer the US’s Organic economy.  Is it any wonder, then, that its growth rates should lag those of the East?

Stay Fresh!

P.S.  If you enjoy or at least tolerate The Mint please share us with your friends, family, and associates!