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Michael Pento predicts "double dip"

After 7 years, it gets harder and harder to blog new stuff, so I've resorted to blogging about stuff that interests me--because it's far easier than blogging about anything else--and what has my attention for the past few months is the global economy. We live in interesting times, for sure.

So here's Michael Pento on Bloomberg. I'm not sure the phrase "double-dip" works; only through the dint of macroeconomic statistics keeping, most of which are meaningless, can one dream the thought that the prior recession actually ended. Anyone who works for a living knows otherwise. What he's actually predicting is the worsening of Great Depression 2.0.


Janjuahmanji!

It's hard to find much wrong with Bob Janjuah's views in a recent CNBC interview. He shows all the wisdom of Hendry, with none of the ego.

The bears are lining up:

Deflationists: Hendry, Janjuah, Prechter
Inflationists: Faber, Rogers

As for me, my views most closely track those of Hendry. Excessive debt is resolved by deflation. But I think everyone (with the exception of Prechter, who is bearish on gold) is mostly correct in the larger sense.


Conference Expansion

It just occurred to me that we've passed our 7th Blogiversary. Back in those early days, one of the issues we covered was ACC football conference expansion. The founders of this blog are VT graduates and football fans, and for a while it appeared as if VT would be left in the wilderness, but the sun shined down on the Hokies as VT was invited to the ACC.

At the time, I thought VT was finally home. But now, 7 years later, the college football world is about to feel an earthquake. The Big 10 started it all as they want Notre Dame to join and started making noises to the effect of filling its roster with a couple of Big 12 schools instead. The Pac-10, not to be outdone, countered with talks of poaching the Big 12 also.

To me, the scenario that makes most sense is for the Big 10 to add Notre Dame, the Pac 10 to add a couple of western schools like Boise State and Utah, and everyone else staying put. That would create six 12-team conferences.

The problem, however, is every conference is afraid some other conference will reject the 12-team model and poach a few schools to go to 16. Obviously, there's a first mover advantage here. So there's instability in the system. Because of that instability, I can see the final outcome being four 16-team superconferences.

Those four conferences would then dominate college football and set the stage for a playoff with the conference championship games essentially serving as a playoff quarterfinal.

More than that though, they could say a big fuck you to the NCAA, break away, and keep the dollars to themselves. Of course, every other school will sue and politicians will get involved, but it would probably be all for naught.

The best article so far on the topic is by Chip Brown.


Open Source Economic Statistics

The government has every incentive to misstate and exaggerate economic statistics, if not lie outright. The CPI excludes food and energy.

One of the websites coming to prominence in this volatile era is John Williams' Shadowstats. While some tasty appetizers of data are available freely on the front page, you have to pay money to eat the entrees.

Has anyone ever tried to create an open-source website for economic statistics? I'm picturing a page where anyone can log their observations. For example, enter Date of 6/2/10 and Loaf of Bread for $2. Or Date of 12/4/10 and Gallon of Gas for $3.03. Some algorithm would process the data points into a coherent result.

Would something like this even work? Would it be useful?


These Kids These Days

via Insty


I steal comments

In the comments to Steve Sailer's post "Long Spans":

Two of Pres. John Tyler's grandsons are still alive. Tyler was born in 1790 and served as the 10th president (1841-45).

Also:

My father, b. 1921, remembered well his great-grandmother, b. 1826. She lived to be 103 years old. Both her grandfathers served in the American revolution; her paternal grandfather witnessed the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown, and lived until 1841.

These two comments, especially the first, simply blew me away. A grandparent is close enough in terms of family relations to be "near" in sentiment, whereas John Tyler is "far".

The men on my father's side of the family tend to have children relatively late in life. I doubt there are many 34 year olds like me whose grandfather was born in 1885. Since I have yet to spawn, there's a decent chance my offspring will be alive in the 22nd century. The lifespans of the family from my grandfather through my children would then encompass parts of four centuries.


Attention SoCal: Seastead-a-palooza is coming your way!

Patri is sweeping through Southern California to promote the work of The Seasteading Institute on June 2nd and 3rd. The first stop is TEDx in Del Mar on June 2nd, where Patri will be one of the featured speakers on the theme of "The Big Picture Future". You can catch the live stream of the TEDx conference from 1PM to 9PM at http://www.livestream.com/TEDx

After the TEDx conference, liberty loving coastal residents will convene for the first San Diego Seasteading Social at Yogi's Beach Bar in Cardiff by the Sea at 9PM (or so). You can find event details at this link if you have a facebook account, or just email me if you have any questions.

To complete his tour, Patri will spread his aquatic gospel on UCSD's campus from 6-7PM on June 3rd at the Price Center East Forum before flying back to colder climes. You can RSVP on Facebook here.

Be sure to catch the tidal wave of liberty as it comes to San Diego!


Missionaries of Hate

Anyone who thinks they can sit on the sidelines and not get involved in "social issues" or the "culture war" needs to watch this video and decide if they are okay with Americans spreading their hateful, homophobic, bible-based religious beliefs in other countries.

Fundamentalists have their missionaries; who will stand up to counter them?

For Orthodox Jews in particular, I ask: How can you as an Orthodox Jew oppose Uganda punishing homosexuality with the dealth penalty (supposing you do oppose this) when the fourth of the Noahide laws prohibits homosexuality and the seventh Noahide law requires the establishment of a system of courts to enforce this law, for which the punishment is death? (Sanhedrin 57a)


"Privatization" gives privatization a bad name

In political circles "privatization" sometimes means that a service previously provided by a government agency is replaced by the services of a private contractor. Let's call this the Bush-Halliburton method of privatization.

There are benefits to contracting out government services. For starters, contractors can go out of business if they do a bad job whereas the half-life of government bureaus rivals that of nuclear waste. Government agencies have the reputation of horribly inefficient places where no worker is ever fired or even given a stern talking to.

But contracting services out to private firms is not always an improvement. The bid process is a golden opportunity for corruption, as this reddit link vividly illustrates.

The worst contractors prosper primarily through the exercise of political influence. In return for campaign contributions and other kickbacks, political leaders are only too happy to shower them with taxpayer money for subpar levels of service.

Skeptics of the free market witness the ignoble cycle created by so-called privatization and are further soured on capitalist ideology. They reason that government agencies can't be more corrupt or inefficient than a contracting process that awards billion dollar no-bid contracts to the Vice President's former employer. At the very least public agencies are bound by the Freedom of Information Act to operate with a degree of transparency. In many cases skeptics' concerns are valid.

For this reason I have never been completely sold on the charter school idea. On the most surface level it does represent the "privatization" of schooling, which I support. But if charters ultimately answer to school district management then they just add another layer of indirection to the existing power structure, providing extra opportunities for rent seeking and graft. Such privatization does not unleash the power of provider competition and consumer choice that free markets claim as their chief virtues. School voucher programs, like the Swedish model, do a much better job of fostering a true educational market.

The private market contains firms that produce great products like General Electric and Google but it also contains firms like Halliburton that grow fat on political favors. Separating the two classes of Capitalists in the public mind is essential to convincing young liberals of the virtues of free markets.


Hugh Hendry channels his anti-Douglas Adams...

...and calls out Jeffrey Sachs at the same time (about time somebody did).

"When you bring on a professor, and when you bring on a politician, they are unaccountable. If Jeffrey's wrong, you know what, he will survive in tenure. If I'm wrong, I'll go bankrupt, right? Who do want to bet with?"

That statement, in all its simplicity, is a succinct, powerful argument at the heart of prediction markets, and more generally, for using all different types of markets as a discovery mechanism.