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Everything posted by agrippa1

  1. We'll just let that assertion sink in while we think of all the things that good does, and does not, simultaneously, refer to. You're using your definition of God, which is really not a definition at all, but a laundry list of others' definitions. I asserted that "god" refers to the tendency of the universe to cause the creation and to cause the evolution of life. I have a hard time saying that the event was not good, given that my existence depends on that thing happening. From my objective evaluation, but maybe not yours, the emergence of life was a good thing. Yes, I'm misusing the word, which is why I described that usage as "an anthropomorphic turn of phrase" not meant to convey an act of a conscious mind. It was good that evolution resulted in the emergence of a conscious, volitional animal, man. By your view point, rain is amoral. By mine (assuming it meets my needs for water and food) it is a good thing. "Good" relates to the value of a thing or event to someone, and does not imply that that thing was intended or planned or caused by a conscious act. And evolution was not "good" for neanderthals. But since I'm a product of evolution, evolution has been a good thing.
  2. I know what it's called. It happened. It was caused by something. If it is caused by the totality of physical laws conspiring with just the right random mixture of physical reality ("conspiring" meant as an anthropomorphic turn of phrase for a physical process), then those laws and that condition of physical objects caused the formation of life. That it was not the result of a conscious intent to create life does not change the fact that it happened and was caused - by something. In that absence of any intent, a "good" thing happened. (my assertion) That, indeed, is the term we use for it. It is, again, the "conspiracy" between natural laws and living beings, and their interaction that creates the effect that we call evolution. It is a "good" thing that living beings evolved to enhance their survival. I'm wrong the attempt to say that God is the sum of all...(etc). That was like saying that "Energy" is the sum of all physical laws and matter. You're right, it's meaningless. That is action based on understanding of the concepts good and evil. There is a rational, objective standard for morality, for the identification of "good." Yes, but they identify actual characteristics of reality. There is a metaphysical basis for the concepts time, mass and distance. If we disagree on that then we disagree on the nature of reality. Replace the word "God" with the word "good." Would you argue that "good" is an invalid concept?
  3. Man has a strong tendency to anthropomorphize concepts. The fact that man has done so to the concept "God" does not mean God has human characteristics. It does not mean that God is a consciousness, as we understand that concept. Nor does the fact that the imaginary, anthropomorphized entity does not metaphysically exist, mean that God does not exist. There is a power in the universe that caused the formation of life, and that causes life forms to behave and evolve with the result that they survive. Prey species develop speed, agility and the ability to evade detection. Predator species develop similar abilities. Each member of a species develops these abilities in itself in order to survive. When man developed the ability to reason, he was no longer guided solely by instinct and programming, and was able to override his instincts in order to survive, protect his family's or species' survival, or optimize the quality of his life. Men soon learned that with the ability to determine good from evil many could be aided by guidance and rules of thumb in matters that did not lend themselves easily to reason. Religions use the concept of God to incentivize people to follow doctrine, the primary purpose of which is to protect the individual, the tribe and the species. God, in religion, is the "thing" which will punish men if they commit "sins." Metaphysically, a man may not be punished for any given commission of a sin, but morally, the knowledge that certain behaviors increase risk to a man, to his tribe, or to his species guides men to rationally impose a surrogate punishment for those sins, even when the metaphysical consequences are nil or hidden. In this view, God is not a consciousness, but it is infinite and omnipotent. It guides man's survival through seemingly random consequences to irrational behavior. That randomness is mistaken by men for real randomness, which implies a consciousness "deciding" when to punish and when to show mercy. Prayer is rationally justifiable in this paradigm, both to ask for mercy (i.e. the random nil consequence to a known irrational act) or to ask for guidance, which is really a focusing of the mind on a specific problem and the freeing of the mind to consider possible solutions. Prayer, when it provides an answer to a problem, is the act of reasoning through a problem, the possible actions, and best action to take to solve that problem in the context of one's life. God is the sum of all physical forces and matter in the universe, and also that ability of reason in man which allows him to volitionally manipulate those forces and matter. God exists. It is real. It is a metaphysical characteristic of reality, like time, mass and distance. It is not a man with a beard sitting on a cloud, or a spaghetti-shaped creature hiding behind an asteroid.
  4. The argument that we are not officially at war is moot. Being officially at war requires us to declare war on a nation, not a combative force which operates within one or more nations. Paul's argument is irrational. It boils down to the assertion that if a person acquired U.S. citizenship prior to engaging war against the U.S., he is not subject to acts of war in defense of his aggression. If that premise is followed, then Al Qaeda or the Taliban, or any other non-state force could simply enlist naturalized U.S. citizens, or have a number of its members become naturalized under false pretenses (reference Faizal Shahzad's explanation for attacking the nation that granted him citizenship on the basis of his proclaimed loyalty - "You're the enemy. I lied!"). Under those conditions, our armed services would find themselves engaged in daily combat with a force that might contain U.S. citizens. The prohibition against taking direct offensive action against U.S. citizens would mean what? They could only defend themselves? They would be forced to lay down their weapons and go home? As long as the gov't provides a clear, objective definition of "enemy combatant," it matters not whether that combatant happened to have been naturalized by the U.S. In fact, the argument could be made that we have more jurisdiction to kill naturalized Americans operating as terrorists in foreign land than we do to target foreign citizens who at least may be defending their land, in their own minds.
  5. I concede that the gov't created a banking industry that is limited not by morality, but by the regulations forced on them by the government. You treat people, even bankers, like animals, and you get animals. Surprise. The only banks that were allowed by the gov't to package mortgages into MBS were those that had passed their CRA evaluation, as specified in Gramm-Leach-Bliley. So, yes, the banks were forced -- and incentivized -- to make subprime loans. The banks that did not participate faced lower profit margins and eventual loss of market share to those accepting the implied gov't subsidies. They had a choice, okay: Go along with GLB, originate sub-prime loans and sell them to Wall Street; or, close up shop. Some banks refused to play along. The big ones were forced, yes forced, to take bailouts from the gov't. The small ones have paid the price in lost liquidity, lost business, more stringent regulation, etc. Their lesson, if they survive, is do what the gov't tells you, play along with Congressional schemes, get in line for the handouts, shut your f**king mouth and play ball, or get forced out of business. Yeah, they made the "choice." I concede. What exactly is your point?
  6. The increase of the rate of money influx into a commodity or industry is the driver of an asset bubble. The inflation adjusted rate of growth of mortgage initiations (as inferred from adjusted rate of growth of Household Credit Market Debt) reached 5% (yr/yr) in 1998 and peaked at just under 10% in mid-2003, at the time private banks were just entering the MBS market. What happened after that point is simply the trajectory of an asset bubble as the flow of new money began to ebb, eventually reaching a net zero increase, at which point the bubble rapidly deflates. The flow of money into mortgages ended in early 2008, just prior to the financial collapse. Once a bubble is created, the money-making pressure to get in while the bubble is hot is too great for most to ignore. If you don't make money off the boom, you are sure to lose as the gov't takes your assets to bail out those that were left holding the bag, or as the economy contracts in a deflationary deleveraging of the boom asset. The stage for a full-blown bubble collapse had been fully set up by 2003, when Fan & Fred still enjoyed duopoly status. There are many ways to slice this issue - the only way to not implicate GSE's and Congress as the major causative culprits is to ignore everything that happened up to 2003. Every analysis I've seen that holds banks solely or majorly responsible has been based on history starting in 2003.
  7. The data is overwhelmingly one-sided. The Case Shiller analysis shows that the bubble was well underway in 2003, when private firms started packaging mortgages. How do you blame high home prices on the private sector in 2003? Once home prices were high and rising, and the conventional wisdom, from all sides, including especially Congress and the GSE's was that they would continue to rise unabated, we were in an unrecognized bubble dynamic. To take what happened after 2003 out of the context of what got us to 2003 is wholly irrational. To conclude that "from 2002-2005, [GSEs] saw a fairly precipitous drop in market share, going from about 50% to just under 30%" ignores the context of the market, in which they went from duopoly status in MBS to two of many competitors, and still they held onto 30% share. Are we to take away that GSE's were originating fewer mortgages? In 2002, they had 50% of a $700B industry. In 2005, they had 30% of a $1.2T industry. In other words, they were still running at full capacity right through the bubble. Were the banks culpable in taking advantage of a scenario created by Congress and the GSE's? Absolutely! But this goes to the underlying issue of regulation v. policing in the banking industry. Once you start regulating an industries parameters, rather than policing fraudulent behavior, you create an environment in which honest businessmen leave for other industries, and frauds and cheats search for ways, within the gov't rules to make a buck. Alan Greenspan called this phenomena "The Attack on Integrity" in an essay in the early 1960's (in Capitalism, the Unknown Ideal). The banking crisis of the 2000's is proof positive that gov't regulation, as strict as it is in the banking industry, only served to breed dishonesty among bankers.
  8. I read this article on NYTimes and was working through a rebuttal argument when I realized that it actually has some merits, not the least of which is that is reestablishes Gibson's Paradox artificially... http://www.nytimes.c...oment.html?_r=1 Setting the currency value to target a fixed rate of GDP growth requires the Fed to raise interest rates when the economy heats up, and to lower them when the economy cools, exactly as the Gold Standard did. The difference with this policy is that it can't be gamed (or can it?) like the Gold Standard was with surreptitious currency debasement. If the Fed were to maintain a fixed nominal GDP rate it would mean that inflation and deflation would be accepted as monetary policy under certain conditions. The choice of nominal GDP rate would fix the long term inflation rate for a given long term growth rate. Gov't would be powerless to manipulate the currency to arbitrary ends (as they always could with the Gold Standard). The diversion of precious resources to the mining, extraction, processing and administration of gold reserves would be eliminated (a finite inefficiency in any Gold-based economy). My guess is that the economic result would be long term growth rates greater than 4.5% and a general deflation of prices over time. The argument that the nominal rate could be changed or softened is true also under a gold standard. But in this case, nominal growth would always be with us, providing an inherent optimism in the economy. The currency would be tied to the economy as a whole, rather than to one commodity arbitrarily chosen (arbitrary, from an economic standpoint, given that the choice factors, preciousness, scarcity, homogeneity, divisibility, etc. are disconnected from larger economic factors). This would, in a sense, establish a currency that uses the entire stock of goods and productive capacity as the standard for currency, letting markets set the total value of those goods and assigning a set amount of currency to that "basket of [all] commodities." What at first seemed utterly objectionable, at longer thought may be an ideal a workable solution to currency standardization. Interested to hear thoughts on this.
  9. You did notice housing prices rising by 20% during the early 2000's right? Did you also notice that "inflation" was pretty flat during the same time? Housing prices weren't counted into CPI, even though spending on debt service represented fully 10% of GDP. Did you notice imports from China skyrocketed in the past decade, and yet the huge influx of cheap goods did nothing to lower the price to consumers? CPI didn't count the downward pressure of cheap imports on consumer prices, and the gov't's calculation of "core CPI" excluded fuel and food, the main consumer purchases least affected by cheap imports. Funny how that works.
  10. Nor is it given as a percentage of GDP... What it does show is that the increase in household debt accelerated most sharply in the lead up to 2003, when only Fannie and Freddie were securitizing mortgages. By the time big banks got into the action acceleration (not growth) had subsided and the trajectory began to curve down, until the bottom fell out.
  11. We're in agreement that when the govt's abandoned the pretense of convertibility they were able to devalue their currency to bring the price of assets up in line with their loan values, and that the economy was able to start once this happened. (The same is true today: until the price of homes rises to the level of the mortgages they back, those mortgages will be a continuing drain on bank resources as they default.) But the impressive increase in personal income is not so impressive when you put it into the context of what was happening in the late 30's and on past the right side of your graph. U.S., Britain, and especially Germany embarked on huge debt binge, printing and borrowing money to build up for war. I'm pretty sure if you extend the graph just a few years to the right, you'll see personal income in Germany, Britain, and most of the world drop just a tad as the results of all that borrowing and malinvestment paid their dividends. The debts they ran up to finance the expansion of the economy and personal income, debts that were never paid off, were made possible by the abandonment (whatever your definition) of the gold standard. Where we disagree is whether the point at which they "left the gold standard," was when they abandoned the pretense of convertibility or when they adopted the pretense by issuing more debt (currency and bonds) than they knew how to pay off. I contend that the gold standard was abandoned in the U.S. when the govt went from about $3B in currency and less than $1B in debt in 1916, to $4B in currency and over $23B in debt by 1919. The massive debt incurred globally in WWI set in motion everything that has happened since, including the inevitable and imminent collapse of fiat currency.
  12. The way write of it makes sound as if money, once "used" to purchase something, somehow gets tied up and can't be used again for "new" transactions. The example you give is extremely hypothetical - an island on which all other resources are expanding dramatically, except for the resource being used as money. Maybe they should choose one of the other resources for their money? Seriously, though, the supply of money only limits transactions if prices stay the same, but they don't, they fall. As prices drop, the amount of money, measured in goods, stays pretty stable. Mathematically, where M is money, G is amount of goods produced (say, widgets), and P is the price of a widget, the following holds generally M = G * P. As G goes up , P goes down with constant M. (to simplify I've left out the time base, which would require another variable, V, the velocity of money). In a case where production goes up but the supply of gold stays the same, the main issue short term is that the cost of borrowing dollars gets very expensive, in goods terms. But in that case, lenders can charge a negative interest and still make goods-measured profit (and write off their dollar-valued losses!) It's only that we have a mindset that measures gain in dollar terms (even though we tend to ignore actual losses resulting from dollar devaluation) that blocks us from thinking rationally when it comes to a hypothetical deflation scenario. If you look at the greatest episode of so-called destructive deflation, from 1929 to 1933, you'll see that prices fell in terms of the CPI, from 17.3 to 12.6. That sounds real scary until you look back and see that 12.6 was the CPI level in 1917, before the government started issuing gold-convertible Liberty Bonds (do I sound like a broken record yet?). The deflation after the crash was simply a winding down of inflation caused by the gov't with its reckless issuance of worthless "gold-backed" debt to fund WWI. The only real issue with falling prices is that eventually prices drop to such a low level that fine tuning them with one-cent resolution becomes less and less efficient.
  13. In a gold standard, only the currency in circulation is backed by gold. Demand deposits, savings and time deposits, and money market securities are part of the larger money supply and are tied to currency only by the reserve requirement (whether required by law or by principle) of institutions issuing them. Money supply can expand by decreasing the reserve requirement. Typically the reserve requirement would only lower if interest rates rise enough to offset the increased risk, as judged by institutions and depositors/lenders. Past the short term, true, there is a finite amount of gold in the world, but the vast majority of it is not economically extractable. Gold is mined only from the relatively small deposits that are profitable. As the economy expands beyond the capability of gold to act as a monetary base, the price of gold (in terms of goods) increases, and the amount of ore deposits that can be economically mined increases quickly. Mines increase production to exploit newly profitable ore deposits, and the money supply increases. Longer term, as harder-to-get gold becomes profitable the pressure to invest in more efficient gold extraction mounts, and technological innovation makes extraction from all sources cheaper. This expansion of gold extraction technology interacts with broader technology expansion, the main driver of economic growth, so that gold extraction and the economy tend to grow at similar rates. When an economy slows down the profitability of gold extraction drops, mines close, and the money supply falls (if necessary) due to attrition into gold-consuming industries. Thus gold acts as a short term regulator on economic growth providing monetary base stability to allow natural interest rates to regulate the economy naturally, but long term, gold tends to flex to economic pressures to expand the money supply. BTW, I agree that the Federal government should not mandate use of a federal currency. The adoption of a currency standard (i.e., definition of a dollar) voluntarily by private banks would allow those banks to compete with the government in the issuance of notes. If the gov't (or any bank) started to overprint money and move towards a fractional gold standard, the conversion of suspect gov't dollars to gold and then to competing dollars would put a quick stop to it. As to objections to the use of multiple currencies, with the modern trend away from cash and the technology available, vendors could easily convert prices from a benchmark currency (their choice, but probably standardized over time) to any currency being issued, and make a similar conversion when depositing collected revenues into their accounts. The Free Market, not gov't, should provide the solution to these imagined "problems." Government force, in the form of mandating that only gov't-issued dollars be used for all private transactions, is a fatal weakness in any gold standard because it leads to abuse by the gov't. It's no coincidence that the gov't starting issuing "gold-convertible" Liberty Bonds just four years after establishing the Fed, and that the collapse of the gold standard quickly followed.
  14. They have it exactly backwards. Leaving the gold standard caused the Great Depression, acknowledging the reality that we had left the gold standard and subsequently devaluing the currency forced prices up to fall in line with debt and allowed for rational trading and lending to resume. The U.S. effectively left the gold standard in 1917 when it began the issuance of over $20B in Liberty Bonds, convertible to gold at maturity, to fund our participation in WWI. These represented 50% of the pre-war GDP and over four times the previous gold obligation of the U.S., an amount that the U.S. could never (and would never) pay off. Those bonds were converted to fixed-rate T-Bills over the course of the next decade in a scheme involving the Fed and Treasury that essentially allowed banks to buy T-Bills on credit at about 2%, sell them immediately to the public at slightly below par, and earn interest on the proceeds at 4-5% until the gov't asked for the money to pay operating costs. The T-Bills rates were fixed at greater than market interest to ensure that all treasuries offered would sell, and the effect was that banks were guaranteed to sell all the T-Bills they purchased to secondary the market. In early 1929, the gov't announced that it would no longer issue T-Bills at fixed rate, but would auction them off, as they still do today. This would cut off a huge source of profit to the banks, and by the time the first auction occurred, in November 1929, the market had already crashed. It was the public's realization that the government had left the gold standard (i.e., could not honor its convertibility obligation), and the banks' unwillingness to play along any longer, that precipitated the crash, and it was the gov't acknowledgment of reality almost five years later that led to a short-lived recovery starting in 1934. As for the gold standard, there's a lot of misunderstanding going on here. All the gov't needs to do to establish a gold standard is pass a law declaring gold convertibility of U.S. currency at a given rate. That rate would be an exact number = (currency in circulation)/(gold reserves). That number can be as high as it needs to be to provide 100% convertibility. That's the definition of a full reserve gold standard. A fractional reserve gold standard means that the government print more money (or other obligations) than can be redeemed for gold... until the people catch wind. Fractional reserve banking is a completely different concept. It involves adding other assets as backers of money (M1, M2, M3), so that the monetary base of gold-backed currency can be expanded into monetary aggregates of both currency and asset-backed deposits. A bank that maintains a reserve of currency for day-day transactions and backs its deposits with assets with values considerably larger than the amount of their loans, can operate safely and generate an expanded monetary supply far greater than what could be provided with just gold as a backer of money. This means that the limitations on gold supply act as a regulator but not a hard limit to money supply, even in a full reserve gold standard. It is when banks fail to maintain adequate reserves that they risk a liquidity run, and it is when they fail to adequately evaluate collateral that they face a solvency crisis. It was the mis-evaluation of house values based on mark-to-market in a bubble that caused banks to back their deposits and MBS's with insufficient salable collateral that caused the mortgage meltdown.
  15. Houses are not tulip bulbs and they're not dot-coms. When most bubbles collapse the assets behind the bubble disappear rather quickly as people rush to avoid further losses on cratering assets. The difference with houses is that selling the house (or walking away from it)) leaves the owner in a worse situation than holding on to it, even if the value is expected to continue to fall. With assets wiped out, no money for a dp (you need at least 25% these days) and a default on their record, they have no way of getting another loan and face a foreseeable future of renting. Since rents are often now considerably higher than mortgage payments on the same place, the owners are better off staying put and ignoring the continuing loss of value of their home. The back pressure against selling homes only gets worse as their values fall. The economy is in a slow death spiral now, with the slow decline in housing prices further depressing the economy, which throws people out of work, which forces them into foreclosure, which drives prices down, which makes it even harder for those who didn't sell to sell. Worker mobility is close to zero, and businesses are waiting for the next "great idea" to come out of Washington. If they're lucky, it won't be as great as Obamacare or Dodd-Frank. There have been a lot of suggestions for "solving" this. Most involve reducing the principal of loans below the homes' market values, but what happens when people see daylight and rush to get out of their homes? A further devaluation. So the plans are modified so that those who get their principal lowered have to stay put. If they leave, the gov't can go after other assets, etc. Another is to subsidize the purchase of empty homes to rent them out. That drives down rent prices and will force current rental property owner to sell. Every "answer" has unintended, negating consequences. Left alone, it will take a combination of defaults (bank losses) and the gradual paydown of mortgages to below the home value. On average, a house bought in 2006 or 2007 with a fixed 30yr and no DP will not get its principal below today's value until 2022. Even buyers who put down 20% are just at breakeven, which means they lose their entire DP investment if they sell now. Devaluation of the currency to pay the federal debt is an inevitability. So why wait and prolong the pain to the economy? Imagine the worst case: gov't lets mortgages unwind slowly as our economy slowly dies, then when revenues drop below a certain point, it becomes crystal clear that gov't default is the only recourse. They print a shipload of money to pay off debt because no one is renewing prices rocket uncontrolled and the housing problem is finally solved, amidst the ruins of a once great economy. If they devalue now, let people know why they're devaluing, put in place safeguards against future bubbles (like, oh, I don't know... a full-reserve, audited gold standard?), then everyone takes their lumps and we rebuild what is still a vital, intact economy. I'm as against gov't intervention as the next guy, but when gov't intervention causes a bubble, gov't de-intervention may be required to re-balance the system. At least in this case, where the bubble dynamics of people's homes prevents a quick orderly correction.
  16. To understand this you have to look at it as a dynamic progression, with each player having a role to play in the development... Yes, CRA played a role in undermining the integrity of gov't-subsidized banks and investment houses. Banks had to meet CRA standards to combine with investment co's and create MBS's. GLBA was passed in 1999, allowing this, but the first banks didn't securitize a mortgage until 2003. By that time, Fan & Fred had already started the snowball rolling... Understand first the way mortgages used to be made - read the threads on fractional reserve banking. In a system with a reserve fraction of 10%, a bank can loan out $9 for every $1 of currency it holds. That limits the amount of mortgages generated to nine times the amount of currency available to the bank. If demand for mortgages goes up, so too do interest rates, and vice versa. Fan & Fred were created to securitize mortgages, which means, they bought those loan assets from the banks, which gained currrency reserves in return. The banks were able to vastly increase the amount of loans they made, to an (almost) inexhaustible extent. This flow of money into mortgages, regardless of how carefully F&F were on lending standards, led to a reduction in the cost of loans, which artificially increased demand. The increased demand for mortgages, and the houses they purchased, led to a perception that houses were a money-making investment. The perceived value of houses became disconnected from their fundamentals, and instead was based on the amount of money that could be made from a purchase. The Federal Reserve did nothing to contradict this perception, and in fact Greenspan pronounced several times that bubbles could not be detected and did not truly exist. Mark to market accounting principles, dictated by the gov't and blamed during the collapse for the sudden insolvency of institutions, led ratings agencies to rate all mortgages as safe, because, even if a borrower failed in payments, he could sell the house for a profit, or the bank could, in a foreclosure. In fact, no-money down became the rule for lenders because housing prices rose quickly enough to (seemingly) guarantee that a loan would soon be less than 80% of the value of the house. In the absence of a strong argument that houses were overvaluing, there was no good reason for ratings agencies to downgrade MBS's. In fact there was a very good reason for them NOT to downgrade those MBS's: The gov't dictated that only those agencies that had a large market share would be accepted as raters for MBS's. If Fitch's had decided to downgrade, and lost bank customers because of it, they would have been sidelined by the gov't. (See Reckless Endangerment) Read the chart referenced above very carefully, It shows share of mortgages in percent, and the GSE's are shown losing market share from a high of 50% in 2002, to a little under 40% by 2007. But the key is not what they did in the final run to collapse, but what they did to start the bubble. Here's a chart of household credit market debt, a pretty good surrogate for mortgages outstanding: Note that between 2000 and 2003, (mortgage) debt rose by over $2T - that's mostly attributable to the influx of cash into the mortgage industry by F&F's MBS's. Okay, so now it's 2003, and F&F start losing their market share to private banks. Enter stage left, the Federal Reserve, which, for a period of over one year, and while GDP was experiencing a growth rate of just under 4%, inexplicably held the fed funds rate at 1%, providing a mortgage-Fed spread that averaged 5% over the period, the highest in over 30 years of records. By the time the Fed started raising rates, the Case-Shiller index had risen from it's historical average of 100 in 2000, to 181 in mid 2004, with a >20% increase just the previous year. Pretty good return, huh? The rest of what happened is simple bubble dynamics, as people rushed in to make huge gains on real estate, flipping houses, refi-ing for huge cash lumps, and trying just to get a house while they could still afford one. When the flow of money slowed, as it must inevitably do, the value of houses, based on the annual increase of home values, began to crater quickly. The use of MBS's as money in the global markets let to a sudden devaluation of assets worldwide. Gov't's tried to inject cash with TARP, etc., but that just slowed down the inevitable unwinding of the financial imbalance. Banks and Wall Street had their roles in this disaster, but they were supporting roles influenced by gov't policies, the main of which was something called "affordable housing." BTW, look to 1934 to see the gov't only option for cleaning up a bubble. The huge debt of WWI led to use of Liberty bonds and T-bills as money during the 1920's. When it became clear that the gov't couldn't repay all that debt, the deleveraging of those securities in the market culminated in the 1929 crash. It wasn't until 1934, when FDR defaulted on more than $20B in WWI debt, by reneging on gold convertibility and devaluing the dollar by more than 40%, that the markets became properly leveraged again and growth started. Unfortunately, the rest of FDR's meddling caused growth to stall again in '37. The only answer to the present malaise is to devalue the dollar so to increase the dollar price of houses above their mortgage amounts. The longer the government waits, the less drastic that action will have to be, but the longer we all have to wait to get on with our lives.
  17. The Fed changed the way it calculated inflation in 1983, so that instead of counting the price of purchasing a home, they counted instead "owner's equivalent rent." As homeownership and new construction expanded in the early '00's, rents collapsed, and housing debt lowered demand for the other components of CPI. The result was that the near doubling of home prices from 2000-2007 was lost on the Fed, and it lowered rates in 2004 to 1%, while the economy was expanding at up to 4% and actual housing price inflation reached a peak of 17%, at the same time the Fed calculated housing price inflation of 2.7%. Yeah, the Fed had nothing to do with it...
  18. Let's boil your argument to its essence: So aside from misunderstanding the point of the gold standard, your foundational premise is wrong. In fact, it has it precisely backwards, so let me restate it correctly and you can work out the logical progression from there: The logical foundation of the Gold Standard is the prevention of government control over the [value of] currency.
  19. An artist has two jobs - first to have the inspiration and insight to depict reality according to his (insightful) value system, and second, to depict it with a level of skill that demonstrates (maybe) innate ability and (definitely) a hell of a lot of work on technique and skill. (Michelangelo's comment on his "genius" is instructive) The Picasso arguably scores points on the first, but fails on the second. The "trash" from Bouguereau arguably fails on the first, but certainly succeeds on the second. The problem with the comparison to Atlas Shrugged, Part I, is that the value system through which reality is depicted is Rand's, while the level of technique and skill is Aglioloro's. Does the film succeed in depicting reality in a new, fresh, interesting, relevant way? Absolutely! Does it do so with technical skill, technique and coherence? A resounding "NO!" Is it art? Is it "good?" Only as much as you give credit for merely recognizing the artistic value of Rand's vision.
  20. Saw the film. AS is an extremely difficult book to make into a movie. But not this difficult. I think Rand would not approve of the positive reviews. She would consider them charity, in my opinion. This was terribly rushed (the making and the flow of the film), poorly cobbled, and irritatingly contrived ("Rumor has it Hugh Akston is working at a diner in Colorado," says Dagny before rushing out for a three-minute meeting with a gold-dollar-sign-embossed-cigarette-smoking Danny from Caddyshack). I got the feeling the book was too difficult for the screenwriter - I'm not talking about the task of converting it to a film, I mean I think the book was too difficult for him to fully grasp. Too bad Peter Jackson isn't an Objectivist.
  21. Ummm... I just read the review. Well, okay, I stopped after the first paragraph. In fact, here's where I stopped: Too bad the movie failed on technical and artistic merits, because I would have been so very interested in Roger Eberts "discussing" Ayn Rand's philosophy. He seems to understand it and appreciate it so deeply. No, no slam to be found... In fact, he's very respectful of Objectivists: ...Quoth the learned critic, deigning to stoop down intellectually to lecture on the pathetic failings of an infantile philosophy. Okay, I couldn't help myself... In fact, this review was directed specifically at O'ists, and its intent is to keep them away... If he succeeds, the very limited initial release will stay very limited and Mssr. Ebert will have struck an effective blow against Rand's message.
  22. You give Mr. Ebert less credit than he deserves. Do you think his reviews are intended only for those who disagree with Rand? Don't you think a leftist/statist ideologue like Ebert would use his influence to quash interest in the movie from any corner? Of course he doesn't slam Objectivism! Doing so would reveal his bias and discredit his review! His review would have to be "objective" in order to have any power to influence and dissuade. Apparently that has worked with some on this forum. Here's an alternative review, published on the far-left leaning Huffington Post, of all places. I read it so see what venom the Left would spew at Rand, and was ... well, you read it... Here.
  23. Roger Ebert has always been a huge lefty scumbag - it's got nothing to do with his face. I would have dropped dumbstruck if he had given AS anything more than his lowest rating. Remember how the novel was bashed universally when it was released? That should tell O'ists all they need to know about relying on critics to form their opinions on an AS movie. Granted, it might be a stinker, but regardless of how good or bad it is (in your opinion), Roger Ebert would never, ever give Ayn Rand's message a positive review.
  24. To a Lefty, O'ism is Right-wing; to a Righty, it's Left-wing. So your characterization tells us a whole lot about your politics, and not so much about O'ism.
  25. I've been to Australia, and I claim that it's full of intelligent people, but I have not brought back any samples, even though my equipment is intact. Therefore there are no intelligent people in Australia. Certainly no evidence here to dispute that conclusion!
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