Economic Theory in “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens

What was Charles Dickens really doing when he wrote ‘A Christmas Carol’? “Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned: they cost enough: and those who are badly off must go there.” “Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.” “If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.” That Read more […]

Robin Williams, the King of Comedy when the Fools Have Changed Sides

The HBO specials of Robin Williams first showed me how absolutely hilarious comedy could be–how brilliant it could be, and brave. It, along with blues, leading to jazz, leading to rock and roll, might be the quintessentially American art form. It has only grown in influence since the heyday of Robin Williams: SNL and then later Stewart and Colbert became astonishingly influential in the way they changed what CS Lewis called our “stock responses” to various issues. Ridicule became the power Read more […]

Hurricane Katrina and the Question of God’s Judgment

Do you remember the debates about whether the Katrina disaster was a judgment on New Orleans? Some on the religious right blamed the carnage on a scheduled gay rights parade. The left invoked an angry Gaia and her retributive global warming. But what if this was a judgment on something other than gays and internal combustion engines? What if it were a judgment on political corruption? Maybe it is in the very nature of reality that Providence, the normal processes and regularities of the natural Read more […]

Where did the Virgin Murderer Get His Worldview?

From the Daily Mail: “Social media reveals the privileged life of Elliot Rodger.” Elliot Rodger often complained on his YouTube videos that his life wasn’t fair. But, his own social media presence reveals that the son of Hunger Games assistant director Peter Rodger lived a life of privilege. He posted several videos and pictures behind the wheel of his black BMW 328i, a luxury coupe with a starting price tag of nearly $40,000.  Rodger is believed to have killed six people in Santa Barbara Read more […]

No, Reuters, Markets Didn’t “Brush Off” Anti-Euro Votes; Markets Applauded Them

According to Reuters: “Bonds, stocks brush off Eurosceptic election gains.”  Italian assets surged and German shares hit all-time highs on Monday as solid election showings by pro-European forces in both countries provided an antidote to Eurosceptic gains in France, the UK and Greece. Though nationalists scored stunning victories in a number of weekend votes, Italy’s pro-European Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s centre-left Democratic Party was on course for a resounding win over the anti-establishment Read more […]

What’s Driving Middle East Uprisings?

Much has been written about the various uprisings which have been gaining strength and momentum since 2008. Usually it takes the tack of focusing on the abuses of the particular regime in question, because the press tends to see things through the eyes of the official underdog in any story based around conflict. Supply side economists like me have pointed to the ways in which monetary debasement by the United States helped set off a wave of food price spikes and launched an Inflation Intifada. But Read more […]

The Role Religion Plays in Economic Growth

Peter Berger is perhaps the world’s most prominent living sociologist. He has written two dozen books including seminal texts in the development of the sociology of religion, the sociology of knowledge, and the sociology of modern development. He may be the most qualified person to speak with authority on matters pertaining to the relationship between religious beliefs and economic development, so I decided to ask him to explain this to me. This interview is the result, and it’s worth listening Read more […]

Is Pope Francis Right About the Golden Calf and “Tyranny of Money”?

I’d like to draw attention to the Pope Francis’ recent homily in which he renounced the “tyranny of money” and a system in which markets and financial speculation allegedly are allowed to operate with complete autonomy, which ends up treating the poor as sub-human, and leads to rising income inequality with the rich exploding upwards in wealth while the incomes of the poor collapse. He identifies this era of market autonomy with a story from the book of Exodus: “The worship of the golden Read more […]

Prosperity: The Three Questions That Really Matter

Tune in to financial TV, read financial news, listen to financial radio and most of what you watch, read and hear is noise. Cable TV increased the number of channels from several to hundreds, and new media increased it from hundreds to tens of millions.  More channels means more space, more space means more need for content, more need for content means more noise. But when one takes a step back and looks at the broad sweeps of economic and financial history, then speculations about whether this Read more […]

Where Should You Invest Your Money With America in Decline?

I’ve argued this point before, and often investors intuitively get the point better than money managers. For example, the other day I was talking to my cardiologist, and after the examination we were chatting in the hallway and he asked me for a stock tip. I don’t give stock tips, but I did explain what my research had found: that one of the most important things to look at when one is compiling a portfolio is the country in which a company is domiciled. Almost all of the discussion on TV Read more […]

Is Pope Francis a Capitalist?

While I was on an investment committee conference call the white smoke appeared, and shortly thereafter we learned that an Argentinian Cardinal named Jorge Bergoglio had been elected and had chosen for himself the name Pope Francis. I shared this thought with friends and colleagues on the call: The Pope will probably move the Church culturally to the right and more likely move it economically to the left. In other words, the age old answer to the question, “Is the Pope Catholic?” is, “Yes.” Read more […]

Why the Left Hates ‘Downton Abbey’

The first thing to do is to admit that I’m a Downton Abbey fan. In fact, I’ve watched every episode twice. But in my defense, I counterbalance my Downton viewings with at least one hour spent with my chainsaw for every hour tuned into Masterpiece Classic. One of the first things one notices, if one is a regular viewer of BBC productions, is that Downton is unusually ideologically and religiously balanced. One of the other effects one notices when one watches a lot of BBC is that one Read more […]