To be wrong with infinite precision

We harbor a crippling dislike for the abstract. One day in December 2003, when Saddam Hussein was captured, Bloomberg News flashed the following headline at 13:01: u.s. TREASURIES RISE; HUSSEIN CAPTURE MAY NOT CURB TERRORISM.

Whenever there is a market move, the news media feel obligated to give the “reason.” Half an hour later, they had to issue a new headline. As these U.S. Treasury bonds fell in price (they fluctuate all day long, so there was nothing special about that), Bloomberg News had a new reason for the fall: Saddam’s capture (the same Saddam). At 13:31 they issued the next bulletin: u.s. TREASURIES FALL; HUSSEIN CAPTURE BOOSTS ALLURE OF RISKY ASSETS.

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Government paper money

The inventions of paper and printing gave enterprising governments, always looking for new sources of revenue, an “Open Sesame” to previously unimagined sources of wealth. The kings had long since granted to themselves the monopoly of minting coins in their kingdoms, calling such a monopoly crucial to their “sovereignty,” and then charging high seigniorage prices for coining gold or silver bullion. But this was piddling, and occasional debasements were not fast enough for the kings’ insatiable need for revenue. But if the kings could obtain a monopoly right to print paper tickets, and call them the equivalent of gold coins, then there was an unlimited potential for acquiring wealth. In short, if the king could become a legalized monopoly counterfeiter, and simply issue “gold coins” by printing paper tickets with the same names on them, the king could inflate the money supply indefinitely and pay for his unlimited needs.

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Sell the schools!

Riddle of the year: How is a public school like the U.S. Post Office? Answer: It’s inefficient, it costs more each year than the last and it is a perpetual subject of complaint about which nothing is ever done. It is, in short, a typical government monopoly.

What occurred

“…what occurred in October 1917 [7th November Gregorian calendar] was a classical modern coup d’état accomplished without mass support. I was a surreptitious seizure of the nerve centres of the modern state, carried out under false slogans in order to neutralise the population at large, the true purpose of which was revealed only after the new claimants to power were firmly saddle. (….)

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