Today, Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan, made his courtesy appearance before the home team, the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee earlier today.
It was, for the most part, a constructive exercise. Mr. Dimon had been called to explain something alarming, a $2 billion loss due to hedges gone awry in what is essentially the banks internal treasury operations. Alarming as it may be, the losses fell entirely on the backs of JPMorgan’s shareholders.
It was a stark contrast to the lambasting that Jon Corzine, former bureaucrat and MF Global chief, recieved by committees from both the House and Senate after his firm “lost” $1.6 billion of client funds. As JPMorgan was the counterparty to the transfer of a portion of those funds, it was only natural that a few questions with regards to the infamous event would find their way to Mr. Dimon today.
Generally, Mr. Dimon gave an impressive show in front of the home team crowd. As the largest bank on the planet and a Treasury Primary Dealer, JPMorgan may be one of the largest direct and indirect purchasers of US Bond issues. For the most part, the Senators were kind to their biggest customer. You can see the entire testimony here.
Some observations from The Mint:
Mr. Dimon knows what he is doing.
There is a reason that JPM is the banker and/or key liquidity provider of many smaller banks and sovereign nations.
It was brought up that loans are the riskiest investments that a bank makes, and JPMorgan is no exception.
The term “hedging” is widely misunderstood. Most take it to mean a trade made to eliminate risk, when in practice hedging has the effect of diversifying a portfolio of investments, often using leverage to do so.
Mr. Dimon’s brief response about the need for fewer regulations which are enforced rather that a myriad of regulators which lack expertise and authority was a brilliant appeal to common sense which mostly fell on deaf ears.
The US fiscal cliff will not wait until December 31, 2012 to produce derogatory effects for the economy. Individuals and businesses will begin to take actions to protect themselves long before the deadline approaches.
One of the Senators observed that the US Treasury ran a loss of $4 billion per day, twice the amount that Mr. Dimon’s firm had lost on its renegade trades.
Most of the Senators, while well intentioned, are absolutely clueless about the inner workings of a modern banking entity. Which begs the question, what qualifies them to regulate one?
JPMorgan is not to big to fail, rather, it is too big to save were it to fail.
One cannot apply the hedging and investment strategies of the world’s largest bank to the entire banking industry.
JPMorgan is in a league of its own, and thus is required to take risks on the scale that is difficult to fathom.
Mr. Dimon places little faith in financial models, which at best are a reflection of the immediate past and generally useless for future decision making.
New regulation costs as a result of the legislation inspired by the financial crisis for JPMorgan were estimated to be upwards of $1 billion.
It is not below the Senate to play the “US Taxpayer is on the hook” card when speaking with a banker, incorrectly implying that the US Taxpayer somehow thought that TARP and everything after was necessary and stands ready to take similar actions should another large bank get into trouble.
Much of the testimony was peppered with the common theme from the Senators which can be summed up in the phrase “how should we regulate you?”
While Mr. Dimon took the opportunity to point out that the so called Volcker rule was a bad idea, which is what has dominated headlines about today’s hearing, He did point out that JPMorgan’s survival was not dependant upon TARP and other bailouts, as has been suggested.
The message? Don’t regulate us and don’t save us.
In the end, isn’t that what true capitalism is all about?
As the world continues to hurtle towards a form of financial armageddon, at The Mint, we have become increasingly reflective. Ed Harrision of Credit Writedowns, recently posted regarding the causes and effects of the current financial crisis/recession/depression which much of the western world now finds itself in.
In the essay, Mr. Harrison observes that one of the root causes of the financial crisis is the combining of financial deregulation with desupervision and the decriminalization of financial crimes.
The most notable example of this phenomenon has been the MF Global Bankruptcy. On the surface, it would appear that the firm purposely helped itself to its clients’ segregated funds in order to cover the firms margin calls which it received in those gloomy days in late October of 2011.
In layman’s terms, this is robbery. Yet in the parallel universe of the insane “debt is money” monetary system in which we live, John Corzine, the CEO of MF Global at the time and supposedly the one who is ultimately responsible for the firms actions, is able to freely walk the streets after telling a series of Congressional committees that He had no knowledge of the “transfers” (read: theft) of client’s funds which were illegally used by MF Global in a desperate attempt to stave off the firms imminent collapse in late October of 2011.
We do not wish to further flog Mr. Corzine, or for that matter, Jamie Dimon, who, as the CEO of JPMorgan, served as an accomplice to the theft (for JPM happily took the missing client funds as collateral in the fateful transfer), for their consciences, if indeed they have one, must be flogging them daily without mercy.
We do, however, wish to flog the idea of decriminalization when it comes to the financial industry. Like sending remotely controlled drones into war, the digitalization of the world in financial matters gives the actors involved a false sense that they are operating not in the real world, but in a virtual world where they alone are acting.
How does this false perception of reality play out and, more importantly, differ from what is commonly understood as real life?
In the example of the remote controlled drone, the drone facilitates acts which more resemble murder than self defense, for it is much easier to convince a teenager, who has been raised playing video games where the actions taken on the screen have no real world consequences (save wasting otherwise valuable time), to kill someone if it can be done by giving them a video game control and a sofa from which to guide their armed drone into real world combat over half the world away.
The experience for the teenager on the sofa is similar to that of the video game and, as such, has the effect of removing the real world consequences of having murdered persons who posed them no existential threat. It is as if the distance both dehumanizes the very real interaction which is taking place.
So it is with financial crimes. As persons begin to conduct a great portion of their financial transactions, especially those involving large sums of money, in a virtual world with little or no human contact, it becomes easier for persons who have access to the funds of others to shun their fiduciary duty and use the funds of others for their purposes without their consent.
While the technical medium employed is an electronic transfer, the actions similar to those taken by Mr. Corzine are more accurately described as robbery.
Yet as of today, Mr. Corzine has not been accused of a crime.
The problem is not that crimes such as murder via remote controlled drone and robbery via wire transfer take place, for robbery and murder have been unfortunate parts of the human experience since the dawn of time.
Nor is it a problem that the means to commit these crimes exist and are used as a normal part of life. For remote controlled airplanes and electronic wire transfers may have great benefits.
No, they problem is that the misuse of these mediums has been largely decriminalized. Those who use them to commit crimes can now justify their actions behind a smokescreen of words and those who should be holding these persons accountable appeal to some good greater than Justice that is being served: Security and Financial stability.
However, without Justice, security and financial stability are mere illusions.
What is important is to have a belief in one’s principles which is firm enough so that it is impossible to compromise them, even when holding to them causes one personal injury.
Bettie Mitchell, the founder of Good Samaritan Ministries, recently shared the story of how her father visited her one day, unannounced, when he was 70 years of age. This was unusual because she knew that her mother had not sent him, which had always been the case in the past.
She knew that what he was to say was important, and that it did not come from him, but from the Holy Spirit.
Her father arrived at her house, she let him in. He entered, sat down and told her the following:
“When I was your age, I had all of the spiritual gifts that you have. Then I began to compromise.Never Compromise.”
With that, Bettie’s father got up, and walked out. There was nothing more to be said, the message had been delivered.
There are principles by which one must live their lives which cannot be compromised upon. Put a different way, it is much easier to stand by one’s principles 100% of the time that 95% of the time.
Once one compromises on their principles 5%, or even 1% of the time, they begin to go down a slippery slope. They are constantly searching for the next patch of firm ground upon which to stand as they find themselves caught sliding down an increasingly unstable incline.
How easy it would have been to simply stay on the level path, even if it did take a little longer to get to one’s destination.
Today, while lawmakers, Judges, and central bankers struggle to find their moral compass as they slide further down the slippery slope they have set out on, we challenge each and every one of you, fellow taxpayers, to stay on the path, where it has always been wrong to steal, and it has always been wrong to murder.
For it is this increasingly narrow path that leads to life.
More on the missing MF GLOBAL client funds, why justice will never be served, and why our current monetary system is at best an illusion and, more accurately, a fraud.
The same, crystal clear money trails which are used to incriminate alleged terrorists, identity thieves, tax evaders, and drug runners are somehow blurred when members of the political and financial elite are involved in the theft.
It is also clear that numbers on a bank or brokerage statement are subject to “vaporization” without cause, justice, or recourse.
2012 has gotten off to a relatively uneventful start on all fronts. Stock and Bond markets continue on autopilot and are completely underwritten by central banks at this point. Commodity prices seem to be following the inflationary path that the central banks support of the stock and bond markets has set them on.Meanwhile, productivity, real output, appears stable and poised to climb, which should further fuel inflation as the money supply begins to overwhelm the supply of real goods and labor.
The assault on civil liberties continues. The United States surrendered its status as a free country when it approved the NDAA, assuring that they government could detain anyone, anywhere, for as long as they want, without ever having to produce charges.
Finally, widespread corruption continues unabated. Officials at MF Global are still loose after robbing $1.2 billion of client funds in a desperate attempt to stave off a margin call which brought down the firm as the CME washed its hands of the situation, leaving traders everywhere wondering if their univested brokerage funds are safe or even truly exist.
Now, from Switzerland, the bastion of financial morality, comes word that the wife of Philipp Hildebrand, now former Chairman of its central bank, made a substantial purchase of US Dollars just weeks before her husband and his colleagues shocked the world by surrendering the Swiss franc to the same fate as the doomed Euro. Coincidence? It would appear not.
The Swiss National Bank Courtesy of Baikonur
In short, there is nothing in the data to disprove the hypothesis that the world’s financial system and by default the nations which are currently charged with it are headed to hell in a hand basket.
This, fellow taxpayers, should be cause for hope. For only when it is acutely understood by all involved the incredible destruction which is being wrought every single day by the current, insane, “debt is money” financial system under which we live, can things finally begin to get better.
We hope and pray that the day of collective acute understanding is near, and that the transition to a new system passes peacefully.
A very thorough explanation of the emerging irrelevance of the COMEX due to the permanent beach of trust highlighted in the MF Global fiasco.
Essentially the claim is that JP Morgan, in its rush to seize collateral, stole the precious metals held in COMEX vaults which rightfully belong to MF Global clients.
This is what is generally referred to as theft. However, the banking elites, who reserve the right to steal for themselves, prefer to call it “rehypothetication,” which simply means that something is pledged as collateral a second time. In this case, MF Global pledged the same collateral to their clients and JP Morgan.
When push came to shove, guess who MF Global and the CME Group (the owner of the soon to be defunct COMEX) threw under the bus?
It is becoming painfully obvious that the degree of fraud and theft required to keep the bankrupt financial system running is reaching a crescendo. What will December 31 bring?
Readers are advised to convert their paper assets to something tangible before their account becomes the victim of another bankrupt Wall Street firm’s margin call.
Click the link below to see the gory details rehashed at goldseek.com:
This was bound to happen. MF Global is the first of what will be many CME metals warehouse defaults. The MF Global clients will take a 28% haircut placing their faith in the CME’s oversight mechanisms, according to Barrons:
Barrons also reiterates that the CME still has not committed to back stopping the lost MF Global funds. Why any honest and informed person would continue to trade and store precious metals with the CME is beyond our limited comprehension.
Whether the missing MF Global client monies are eventually located, placed by the CME, replaced by Corzine and his accomplices, or not all, irreperable damage has been done to investor confidence as far as commodities go.
Today the Agricultural committee of the US Senate played host to what has become the political and financial spectacle of the year: The Hearings on the MF Global collapse. We have equated these hearings to professional wrestling. While high in entertainment value, the spectators are left to wonder how much of it is real and how much of the action is staged.
Today, Jon Corzine, MF Global’s former CEO, the ultimate insider who has become the poster boy for the corporate and political corruption that seems to rule the day, was joined by Bradley Abelow, former President and COO of MF Global and Henri Steenkamp, who is still acting as the firm’s CFO.
Jon Corzine takes a quick thumb to the eye at MF Global’s Wrestlmania
It appears that the addition of two more members of MF Global’s senior management team was intended to give the illusion that there may be more information forthcoming at this hearing than at the earlier hearing held by the House Agricultural Committee. That illusion was quickly dispelled as soon as each of them opened their mouths.
In summary, they are very, very sorry. They are aware that this situation has undermined confidence in the markets. They do not know where the $1.2 billion of missing client funds are. They are pretty sure that the funds went missing from their treasury group, where the funds are held.
Strangely, the Patriot Act of 2001, in addition to steamrolling the US Constitution, included provisions which required every banking institution in the US to “know their customer,” which in practice means that no transfer from US accounts could have taken place without the authorities being able to quickly track who the money went to. This provision, which on its face would make theft and money laundering in US Financial institutions impossible, makes “not knowing” who the money went to an untenable defense.
Nonetheless, Corzine and his cohorts stated again and again that they have no idea where it went.
The only revelation, apart from the names of a few MF Global employees who were offered as sacrificial lambs before the inquisition style questioning, was that the CFO of North American division was apparently on vacation when the funds went missing.
They never mentioned whether or not this individual had returned.
Corzine went as far to say that nothing he said, such as “I don’t care where you get the money, we have to make this margin call,” for example, “should have been construed” as permission to transfer client funds into MF Global operating accounts and then out to counterparties. He is obviously slipping towards a plea and hoping to do time with his Goldman buddies at a posh jail in Manhattan.
By the end of the morning, nothing that was said, either by a member of the Senate or former MF Global executive, served to instill any measure of confidence.
The afternoon, however, looked promising. The regulators who were on the case and had their noses close to the ground were set to testify. CME Group Executive Chairman Terrence Duffy, MF Global Trustee James Giddens and CFTC Commissioner Jill Sommers sat down before the committee and took the obligatory oath.
Mr. Giddens lead off, restating the obvious. He is in charge of ensuring that MF Global assets are liquidated and that the proceeds distributed to the creditors based on the criteria laid out in the US Bankruptcy code. He would later state that efforts to recover assets abroad had been blocked by sovereign governments (those across the Atlantic), who are likely protecting their banks from what would be a devastating clawback of funds.
Then, just as we thought that the afternoon would be a snoozefest, Mr. Duffy of the CME Group dropped a bombshell.In his opening remarks, he stated that he was “in the room” when a CME employee was on the phone with an MF Global employee who stated that Mr. Corzine had direct knowledge that client funds were missing (or in industry parlance, “loaned out”) well before the weekend of October 31st.
This directly contradicted Mr. Corzine’s testimony under oath in which he stated that he had “no knowledge” of the missing client funds until that fateful weekend.
Et tu, Brute?
The diversion only lasted for a moment. The committee then proceeded to flagellate Mr. Duffy and the CME Group for defending the idea that their exchanges can properly self regulate themselves.
Mrs. Sommers of the CFTC was then flagellated by the committee for the failure of the government agency to regulate entities such as the CME Group and MF Global which are supposed to, if we understand correctly, self regulate themselves.
As today’s chapter of the spectacle came to a close, there were more questions than answers. Like the old WWF, no scores were permanently settled and we will have to tune in Friday to see how the next stage in this drama unfolds. It promises to be exciting, as the committee includes none other than Ron Paul (R-TX), the one man in Congress who may actually understand what happened.
For those who have not been following, the MF Global situation is extremely important because a number of things that investors have been able to count on have been called into question. A brief list of these now invalid assumptions:
– Client funds are properly segregated from a brokerage company’s operating funds.
– Exchanges such as the CME Group will backstop (make whole) clients in the event that one of their approved brokerage firms goes bankrupt.
– Exchanges will halt trading in the event of a bankruptcy until any missing client funds can be accounted for and that trades from customers of the bankrupt brokerage can be executed.
– Once a brokerage firm declares bankruptcy, all assets must be handed immediately over to a trustee who from that moment on has a fiduciary duty to sell the bankrupt firms assets to the highest bidder to satisfy as many creditors as possible.
– Regulatory agencies such as the CFTC have controls and monitoring in place which will prevent clients from suffering losses if a brokerage firm misappropriates their funds.
– Sarbanes Oxley has effectively eliminated corporate fraud.
– The commodity exchanges, such as the CME Group, can effectively self regulate.
– Theft is illegal.
Every day which passes in which there is not a full recovery of the client funds held by MF Global adds to the list of questions. And every day that passes serves to call further into question the ability of all brokerage houses, exchanges, and government regulators to make good on their promises.
The MF Global situation is not simply about the bankruptcy of a large brokerage, it is about whether or not the rule of law can be trusted to operate in the financial markets of the United States of America.
For all of the bankruptcies and bank seizures that have occurred in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, in most cases there has been confidence that the framework of the markets could be trusted, and that the myriad of regulatory entities which are supposed to make Capitalism safe for all have everyting under control.
After MF Global, one has to question whether any asset, paper or physical, entrusted to a financial institution is safe.
There is something strangely satisfying about sitting around a large indoor fire just feet away from the Christmas tree with family. In those moments, one can partake of all that is right with the world. It occurred to us that we all strive for these moments yet at times they can seem elusive. Eternity is placed in our hearts, and time on earth seems to be in short supply.
As such, we must use it wisely.
We have been extolling the benefits of what we have been calling True Capitalism. True Capitalism is what we here at The Mint humbly offer as the solution to what currently ails the world. There is one byproduct of True Capitalism, a radical respect of life and property, which is often overlooked and is perhaps “central” to the advantage that it has over every other conceivable construct of society:
True Capitalism works to decentralize power.
In other words, it naturally evens the playing field by removing unfair advantages realized by some at the expense of others.
But isn’t that what Government is supposed to do? Of course it is! However, governments circa 2011 are in the middle of an unprecedented power grab. This centralization of power, they say, is necessary in order to homogenize life as we know it and to help everything run smoothly.
Even if this were possible, there is a fundamental problem created by the centralization of power which is without resolution. In layman’s terms, it makes for an easy target.
When we see the word target, your mind may conjure up images of vulnerability of a military attack. However, what we have in mind is much more dangerous. An army of lobbyists.
Herein lies the weakness of centralized power. However good its intentions, it will constantly be under attack and subsequent influence of groups who desire this centralized power for their own benefit. Repelling these attacks is expensive. Succumbing to them, as is more often the case, will bankrupt a nation.
Governing is not cheap, and there are no economies of scale in it. Rather, the larger it is, the less efficient it becomes. Does this sound familiar? This is what we have now thanks to the Might Makes Right ideology by which we are ruled.
Enter True Capitalism.
In a Truly Capitalistic system, the cost of the nation state drops to zero, for the nation state as we know it would cease to exist. Does this mean that there will be not be a need for governance? No, on the contrary, the roles which we now attribute to government will be carried out by any number of organizations. Governance, in general, would increase, yet it would cost less!
How is this possible? Voluntary governmental bodies are generally more responsive and efficient, in large part because the cost of governance falls directly to those individuals who desire to pay for it.
Governance has value, and its value can and is be properly set on an open market. The phenomenon of corporations and persons choosing to reside in low tax venues represents a conscious choice of where and by whom one prefers to be governed by those individuals.
In the west, the value of the brand of government provided in the US and Europe is dropping along with its bond prices. The fact that nations issue bonds is proof of two things: That their service oriented businesses are failing and that they will be increasingly reliant upon their ability to forcefully relieve their citizens of their assets (commonly known as taxation) to continue operations.
In other words, they will rely on their Might, the use of force, to justify their “right” to govern.
This untenable “Might Makes Right” system that can only operate as long as people believe that the aggressor has absolute power over them. This is why countries have flags and dictatorships have the image of the dictator plastered everywhere. This is why people are being forced into the current banking system, taught to rely upon it, and subsequently shut out of it.
This is a reason why Modern Central Banking and the Corporations that have sprung up around the Central Banks are man’s greatest disaster.
Once the currency and banking systems of Europe and America are completely broken down, people’s blind faith in the currency and its issuer will be destroyed. The currency regime will then quickly disintegrate
The Federal Reserve will likely allude to QE3 to the tune of $1 trillion dollars today in a desperate attempt to keep the currency regime afloat.
The clock is ticking on these failed monetary experiments.
Today the world witnessed one of the most surreal spectacles that we can imagine. John Corzine, former CEO of MF Global, the Primary Dealer which went bankrupt on October 31st and is now missing $1.2 billion of client funds, was called on to testify by a group of men in the US Congress who are trying to understand what went wrong and how they can prevent it from occuring again.
You can see the agonizing hearing in all of its glory by clicking the link below. Our humble observations:
1. Neither Mr. Corzine or Congress said anything that should give any measure of confidence to participants in the global financial markets.
2. Mr. Corzine is sorry this happened.
3. One of the members of the panel stated the obvious “we got to find that money.” Understatement of the year.
4. Mr. Corzine is so confident that the client funds will be recovered that he mumbled, after being pressed by a member of the panel, that he and the other executives would personally reimburse clients in the event that it wasn’t (NOT!)
5. Questions about the Federal Reserve’s ability to properly vet firms who are qualified to be Primary Dealers.
We didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Mr. Corzine looked like a large elf from the camera angle and the members of congress, in most cases, sounded less than up to the task of understanding what happened, much less being able to craft legislation which would prevent a similar event in the future.
It was like watching political professional wrestling. The entertainment value was fairly high, excitement filled the room, but it left you wondering if what you saw was real or simply scripted and well acted by all involved.
All in all, it was a synopsis of the level corruption and ignorance that grace the halls of power in America circa 2011.
The acts which are required to carry out an economic system doomed to failure inevitably insures that those who lead would be the worst amongst us in terms of adhering to any sort of moral code, for they have chosen to pursue the economic or political program above the obligations of morality, no matter what the cost. They possess the ability to mute their conscience and oversee acts that are increasingly despicable and outrageous in pursuit of the aims of the program.
Hayek goes on to argue that as the Totalitarian economic and social program inevitably begins to fail, the leader of said system would increasingly deem it necessary to employ a larger number of individuals to enforce the increasing sacrifices required to continue the program. He offers three reasons why this inevitable outcome further assures that the leader surrounds himself with and encourages the promotion of those who are capable of the worst forms of moral corruption:
“First, the higher the education and intelligence of individuals become, the more their tastes and views are differentiated. If we wish to find a high degree of uniformity in outlook, we have to descend to the regions of your moral and intellectual standards where the more primitive instincts prevail. This does not mean that the majority of people have low moral standards; it merely means that the largest group of people whose values are very similar are the people with low standards.
Second, since this group is not large enough to give sufficient weight to the leader’s endeavors, he will have to increase their numbers by converting more to the same simple creed. He must gain the support of the docile and gullible, who have no strong convictions of their own but are ready to accept a ready-made system of values if it is only drummed into their ears sufficiently loudly and frequently. It will be those whose vague and imperfectly formed ideas are easily swayed and whose passions and emotions are readily aroused who will thus swell the ranks of the totalitarian party.
Third, to weld together a closely coherent body of supporters, the leader must appeal to a common human weakness. It seems to be easier for people to agree on a negative program — on the hatred of an enemy, on the envy of those better off – than on any positive task. The contrast between the “we” and the “they” is consequently always employed by those who seek the allegiance of huge masses. The enemy may be internal, like the “Jew” in Germany or the “kulak” in Russia, or he may be external. In any case, this technique has the great advantage of leaving the leader greater freedom of action than would almost any positive program.
Advancement within a totalitarian group or party depends largely on a willingness to do immoral things.”
The Might Makes Right ideology, then, far from being a viable alternative to True Capitalism, assures a slow march towards a society which openly ignores the rule of law and, as a consequence, quickly becomes devoid of morality.
Can you now see why the ideological battle between True Capitalism and Might Makes Right is much more than a simple choice of economic systems, rather, it determines the moral basis upon which a majority of the society’s members will act.
Unfortunately, we have a shining example of the phenomenon of the worst rising to the top in Jon Corzine, former governor of New Jersey and CEO of the now infamous investment bank, MF Global. Mr. Corzine is a career investment banker and politician. In other words, he has been firmly indoctrinated and skillfully trained in two of the most destructive trades known to mankind.
Mr. Corzine allegedly saw nothing wrong with raiding the cash accounts of MF Global’s clients in a vain attempt to stave off the firm’s bankruptcy which was declared on October 31, 2011. There is no way to sugar coat what happened in the days leading up to MF Global’s demise. MF Global allegedly robbed its clients’ accounts to meet its own obligations. The fact that the commodity exchanges have been allowed to operate without immediately making the defrauded clients whole has caused an unprecedented breach of the trust which underpins the smooth operation of these exchanges.
Perhaps Mr. Corzine thought he was still a politician. In Government, it has become a common and acceptable practice to rob a legally established trust fund and replace it with the government’s IOUs.
Mr. Corzine is but the most recent example of the level of hubris and moral corruption required to occupy a high level post in the government and financial sectors circa 2011.
The MF Global bankruptcy and subsequent actions taken by the regulators have called into question whether or not the rule of law will prove supreme in such a situation. As a society increasingly leans towards a Might Makes Right ideology, the excuses for ignoring the rule of law proliferate.Hayek observed the inextricable link between the rule of law and Freedom when he wrote the following:
“NOTHING distinguishes more clearly a free country from a country under arbitrary government than the observance in the former of the great principles known as the Rule of Law. Stripped of technicalities, this means that government in all its actions is bound by rules fixed and announced beforehand.”
The most famous modern excuses for ignoring the rule of law during the war on terror and the financial crises are: “These actions are taken in order to protect the American people,” and “These actions have been taken to ensure the stability of the Financial System.”
Fellow taxpayer, do you personally feel safer than 10 years ago? Do you believe that the financial system is more stable than five years ago?
These are important questions, for the answer may reveal which side of the ideological battle one identifies with. True Capitalism or Might Makes Right, for there is no ideological middle ground.
The governments of the world are busy tirelessly advancing a failed program. It should come as no surprise, then, that nearly every action that the governments have taken to fight the war on terror and the financial crisis only seem to have made the original problem worse.
It is clear that as long as the Might Makes Right ideology is embraced by institutions and governments, those who are best able to ignore basic morality and the rule of law are most likely to populate their halls of power.
It should come as no surprise, then, that man’s only hope for justice is to reject Might Makes Right and embrace True Capitalism. Only then will lasting peace and prosperity be attainable.
After a brief break in our faithful correspondence, we are compelled to pick up the proverbial pen to complete an incomplete thought in a vain attempt to eat Thanksgiving dinner in peace. If you are a new reader of The Mint, we will simply relate that the Mint is the product of a deep felt agitation by its author. It is what could be referred to as therapy. The thoughts, once on paper, leave us in peace. Until then, they stir, deep in our spirit, waiting to escape via these words.
How very fortunate and long suffering you are, fellow taxpayer.
Before we continue our mantra of Anarchy, True Capitalism, Natural Law, and Might Makes Right, we will share a few important observations.
First, the MF Global implosion is now reported to have left a $1.7 Billion hole in the capital base of a highly leveraged commodity and derivatives market. MF Global was a primary dealer, one that had the unconditional trust of the exchange and other secondary commodity dealers. It was a silent pillar of these markets. The aftermath of their implosion, both in loss of capital and confidence, has only begun to unfold. Commodity markets are no longer “safe” by normal standards. This situation is best watched by your money at a distance.
Second, while Europe implodes, the US has been spending most of its time firming its position in Asia. There has been speculation that the US is moving to aggressively devalue the dollar vis-à-vis the Yuan. Will it be the 10:1 reverse split that we have speculated about here? No one knows, but it would appear that the US Dollar will not serve as a reliable store of wealth in the short term. Silver and Gold come to mind as viable substitutes as this drama plays out.
Finally, It appears that the Occupy protesters are now wising up and using tactics which we call the Bolivian tactic, that of blocking major thoroughfares. It is much more effective, not to mention exciting, than urban camping. As a practical matter, if your livelihood in any way relies on a major thoroughfare being open in an area where the protests are growing, we suggest that short term contingency plans be considered.
These events and any pain they cause should be short term, maybe three to four months of adjustments, if they are allowed to simply run their course. If the Government continues to intervene, they will plague us indefinitely. We pray for the former and prepare for the later.
With that off our chest, we continue pondering life as we know it. Our question today is: Why does it seem that the worst morals seem to come out on top? First, a glance at Isaiah:
“ And I will make boys their princes, and infants shall rule over them. And the people will oppress one another, every one his fellow and every one his neighbor; the youth will be insolent to the elder, and the despised to the honorable,” Isaiah 3:4-5
Have you ever complained about a politician? The government? How about your boss? The current state of society? If you haven’t, you are indeed a rarity in this day in age, for there is much complaining, and seemingly much to complain about.
How did we arrive at this, fellow taxpayer? If democracy is supposed to deliver the cream of the crop in terms of leadership in the government, why does it seem that most politicians are the epitome of immoral liars?
This question was thrust upon us as we were reading the “Is there no shame” rant at zerohedge.com and came across the words “Hayek’s theory that the worst always rise to the top.” We then perused Hayek’s theory in an excerpt from the “Road to Serfdom.”
In the section entitled “Why the Worst Get to the Top,” Hayek states that:
“There are strong reasons for believing that the worst features of the totalitarian systems are phenomena which totalitarianism is certain sooner or later to produce.
Just as the democratic statesman who sets out to plan economic life will soon be confronted with the alternative of either assuming dictatorial powers or abandoning his plans, so the totalitarian leader would soon have to choose between disregard of ordinary morals and failure. It is for this reason that the unscrupulous are likely to be more successful in a society tending toward totalitarianism. Who does not see this has not yet grasped the full width of the gulf which separates totalitarianism from the essentially individualist Western civilization.”
Suddenly, it all makes sense. As man has generally chosen to pursue the Totalitarian, or what we call the Might Makes Right ideology, it would follow that those thrust into power should be among the most immoral, unscrupulous, human beings on the planet.
In summary, the Might Makes Right ideology unwittingly promotes the worst individuals to positions of power, as they are best suited to carry out the immoral and contradictory demands which are invariably made of the persons occupying positions of power in such a system.
Depressed? Don’t be. It doesn’t have to be this way. More tomorrow.
The fairy tale of the world’s current financial system continued today. Stocks crept higher in the face of what seems to be a deluge of bad news:
“Frustration mounts for MF Global clients” – Jon Corzine’s firm cannot account for $600 million in client funds. Beyond the inability to deliver client funds on demand, MF Global clients began receiving margin calls as their collateral with the firm vanished. The ripple effect was so severe that commodities exchanges relaxed their margin rules in order to to avoid wider damage. The fall of MF Global was like an earthquake, now it is time to brace for the financial Tsunami.
“New Census data raise number of poor to 49 million” – The official poverty rate is 15.1%. However, it hits 16% when you slide the income bar just a bit higher to $24,343 for a family of four. In other words, one in six Americans is currently living below this slightly adjusted poverty measure.
“Italy bond yields soar; euro zone troubles deepen” – Lest we forget that the euro financial system is a complete disaster, Italian yields are climbing and the Italian bond market is beginning to resemble the leaning tower of Pisa. Then came reports that Spain only had 20 billion Euros in reserves at the end of August (they must have spent their savings on vacation!) and as their banking system crumbles, they are largely helpless to intervene to save it. Meanwhile France is now pushing austerity leaving Germany and the ECB as the only backstops in Europe.
Yet in spite of this disasterous news, the Dow is holding just above 12,000. What does it mean?
Far from signaling economic recovery, the action appears to be further evidence that what Nadeem Walayat at the Market Oracle calls the Inflation Mega-Trend (and consequent Stealth Bull Market in stocks) is firmly in place.
The Mega-Trend, as Mr. Walayat calls it, is the simultaneous debasement of the currency and spreading of deflationary propaganda intended to delay the public’s reaction to the inflation caused by said debasement.
Think about it, while the FED, ECB, BoJ, and nearly every other Central Bank in the world pump money into their financial systems in order to “fight deflation” or “stimulate the export market,” the average person has watched gas, food, and the price of nearly everything else (besides their paycheck) steadily rise over the past decade.
The the public is told that these steady increases are “healthy inflation” which is currently “understood” to be roughly 2% a year. This 2% in reality represents the indirect tax rate imposed on anyone who chooses to hold a currency as an asset or accept the currency as wages. There is not time here to properly refute the fallacy that inflation is somehow necessary for GDP growth. However, inflation is useful and absolutely necessary to keep an insane, “debt is money”, ponziesque, wealth destroying monetary system functioning.
As the Central Bank creates trillions of dollars out of thin air in a vain attempt to stabilize the global financial system, the public is told that it this new currency is “benign” because most of the money is being held on deposit at the Federal Reserve simply to buffer the banks against falling asset prices and keep the ATM machines spitting out cash.
Yet, with the stock market maintaining its optimism in the face of seeming insurmountable odds, can you be sure that the FED’s funny money is safely locked up in its electronic vaults, simply waiting to have foreclosed properties written off against it?
Will all of this freshly printed money really be content to simply die a quiet death, never having run through an ATM or point of sale transaction in the real world?
Oh, fellow taxpayer, we have our doubts. You should too. More tomorrow.