Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

Category Archives: Economics

Voters Finally Learn What’s in the CRomnibus Bill Passed by the Senate

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, December 16, 2014:

Official portrait of United States Senator (R-KY)

Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Republican sellout

The so-called CRomnibus bill (a combination of a Continuing Resolution and an omnibus spending bill covering dozens of federal agencies) was passed by the Senate late Saturday night, 56-40, approving government spending through next September.

Passage, although delayed slightly by complaints from Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) that it funded President Obama’s illegal immigration executive order without debate, was guaranteed when 24 Republicans, including every GOP leader, voted for it. This allowed some Democrats the opportunity to vote against it as a sop to constituents or to build their resumes in contemplated runs for the White House in 2016. They included newly inducted Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.), along with Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Amy Klobucher (D-Minn.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).

Others whom Republicans bailed out with their “yea” votes included naysayers

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Energy Junk Bond Investors Heading for the Exits

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Sunday, December 14, 2014:

English: Oil well An oil rig used for training.

An oil rig used for training.

As crude oil prices continue their breath-taking fall, the ripple effect is beginning to reach far beyond the gas pump. On Friday crude oil dropped below $60 a barrel, causing some experts to predict $55 a barrel the following week and $40 a barrel within a few months.

That is putting pressure on oil producers to service their massive debts — some $550 billion incurred in the last five years — and scaring bond investors who are now looking to sell.

It’s a mania, said Tim Gramatovich of Peritus Asset Management who oversees a bond portfolio of $800 million: “Anything that becomes a mania — ends badly. And this is a mania.”

Bill Gross, who used to run PIMCO’s gigantic bond portfolio and now advises the Janus Capital Group, explained that “there’s very little liquidity” in junk bonds. This is the language a bond fund manager uses to tell people that

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Service Employees Int’l Union Suing Fast-food Stores for “Wage Theft”

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, December 8, 2014:

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) joined with New York State’s attorney general and filed suit against Ron Johnson, the owner of five Papa John’s pizza stores in downtown Manhattan, for “wage theft” back in October. The two interlocked forces are seeking $2 million in damages for failing, according to the two plaintiffs, to pay adequately more than 400 pizza delivery drivers.

According to the Daily Signal, SEIU and New York’s attorney general really don’t work out of the same office, but they might as well. The statement from AG Eric Schneiderman contained this comment from Kendall Fells, the organizing director for Fast Food Forward:

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ACORN is Alive and Well and Suing Papa John’s

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, December 8, 2014: 

 

If Wikipedia is to be believed, the Association for Community Organizations for Reform Now – ACORN – no longer exists:

At its peak ACORN had over 500,000 members and more than 1,200 neighborhood chapters in over 100 cities across the US….

 

Its U.S. offices filed for Chapter 7 liquidation on November 2, 2010, effectively closing the organization.

Except for this pesky footnote:

Many ACORN members and organizers formed new state-wide organizations.

One of those freshly-minted state-wide organizations is Fast Food Forward (FFF), located in the same building with the same second-floor office address as New York Communities for Change (NYCC), which received nearly $2.5 million from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in 2012. The New York Post reported that the NYCC is the dregs of Brooklyn’s former ACORN office.

Far from being deceased or even dormant, FFF’s “organizing director,” Kendall Falls, was

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Gas Prices: How Much Lower and Longer?

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, December 5, 2014: 

On November 17, gas prices had dropped to $1.9...

It made headline news when a OnCue Express station in Oklahoma City dropped its price for regular unleaded gasoline to $1.99 gallon on Wednesday. What didn’t make the headlines is what happened next: Drivers seeking to save a few pennies created long lines at OnCue, and so another station down the street, responding to the competition, cut its price to $1.98 a gallon. By the end of the day, another station located in nearby Moore, Oklahoma, cut its price to $1.95 a gallon. 

Gas wars are back, helping consumers and providing living, breathing proof that, despite everything, the free market still works. 

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Swiss Issue an Unequivocal Buy Signal for Gold

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, December 5, 2014:

Rarely do the precious markets receive such an unequivocal, unblemished, unalloyed buy signal as the one issued by the Swiss when they voted down, 3-to-1, a referendum that would have modestly restricted the activities of its central bank.

Months earlier, polls showed that the “Save Our Swiss Gold” initiative was likely to pass, but massive publicity campaigns and moves by Citigroup to cash in on it caused a huge shift in public sentiment, with the final vote on Sunday, November 30 defeating it by a 78-22% margin.

The Swiss, being a direct democracy, are known for referendums, voting on an average of five of them every year, with most of them failing. But this one caused rejoicing among observers and Swiss National Bank (SNB) officials that likely put in a bottom in the gold market. Had it passed, the referendum would have required the SNB to

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Swiss Bank Referendum Fails, Franc Drops

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, December 4, 2014:

Banknotes of the Swiss franc

Banknotes of the Swiss franc

The Swiss voted down the initiative “Save Our Swiss Gold” on Sunday, November 30, by a margin of three to one, rejecting efforts to shore up the Swiss National Bank’s (SNB) balance sheet. Switzerland, a direct democracy, entertains an average of five such referendums every year, and most of them fail. This initiative would have required the SNB to boost its gold bullion holdings from its current eight percent level to 20 percent over the next five years. It would also have required the central bank to repatriate its foreign-held gold reserves, while prohibiting it from ever selling any of those reserves in the future.

When first proposed, speculators bought the Swiss franc cheap, hoping to sell it dear if the initiative passed. Investors in gold were holding their breaths as well, noting that

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Crude Oil Price Declines Reveal Who’s Swimming Naked

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, December 3, 2014: 

Ali Al Naimi

Ali Al Naimi

One of the most famous homespun quotes Warren Buffett ever uttered is this: “Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.” With the decline in crude oil prices of nearly 50 percent since June, more and more people are finding themselves swimming naked, or they’re about to.

Consider the formerly invincible oil cartel, OPEC, which seems to be suffering from delusions of its former glory by taking on oil producers in America. Instead of cutting production in order to “stabilize” oil prices, the cartel, led by the aging big kahuna, Saudi Arabia, has decided to

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Lower Crude Oil Prices Already Pinching Producers

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, December 2, 2014:

Coat of Arms of Saudi Arabia

Coat of Arms of Saudi Arabia

As crude oil prices continued their breathtaking drop, the CEO of Canadian Natural Resources, Canada’s largest oil company, Murray Edwards (the 14th wealthiest Canadian) was asked on Friday just how much further crude oil prices could decline. His response:

On a given day you can have market fluctuations where prices fluctuate far more than the underlying economic value of the unit. Prices could spike down to $30, $40. It got down to $35 in 2008, for a very short period of time.

On Monday crude oil prices briefly stabilized and then dropped further on Tuesday, hitting new four-year lows.

This pronouncement is at odds with an oil production estimate by the seemingly eternal oil optimist and economist Mark Perry, who rejoiced on Monday that

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Black Friday Gun Sales Outstripping Government’s Ability to Keep up

This article first appeared at the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, December 1, 2014: 

Leaving a meeting with Vice-President Joe Biden, NRA official Jim Baker told The Daily Caller that Biden said the government simply couldn’t keep up with tracking, following, and monitoring Americans buying guns:

Regarding the lack of prosecutions for lying on the [gun registration] Form 4473s, we simply don’t have the time or [the] manpower to prosecute everybody who lies on a form, who checks a wrong box, [or] who answers a question inaccurately.

That was before Black Friday virtually inundated the FBI’s National Instant Background Check System (NCIS). According to the FBI, on Friday background checks were running at

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Gun Sales Triple on Black Friday

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Sunday, November 30, 2104:

The national media were full of reports from retailers of Black Friday consumers driving sales to record levels, with some retailers estimating sales jumping 15 to almost 40 percent over last year. Consumers not only took advantage of specials being offered the day after Thanksgiving, but in many cases even shopped on Thanksgiving Day, perhaps foregoing a little turkey and football in the process.

It’s called Black Friday for a very good reason:

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George Mitchell: the one man most Likely Missing from Thanksgiving Day lists

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, November 28, 2014:

English: "The First Thanksgiving at Plymo...

English: “The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth” (1914) By Jennie A. Brownscombe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s a safe bet that Americans, in compiling their list of blessings for which they were most thankful on Thanksgiving Day, didn’t put George Mitchell at the top. It’s even safer to bet that most Americans don’t even know who he was, or how his life has made life better for nearly every American today.

The Economist had it right: “Few businesspeople have done as much to change the world as George Mitchell.” The founder of Mitchell Energy & Development Company located in Galveston, Texas, Mitchell was responsible for drilling more than 10,000 natural gas wells and, in the process, resetting the world’s energy equation.

Although he passed away over a year ago at the age of 94, Mitchell’s advances in fracking technology are continuing to delight American drivers with

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Oil Market: Lower Gas Prices not the Only Reason to be Thankful

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 2014:

When news from Vienna arrived on Wall Street early Thanksgiving morning that OPEC wasn’t going to cut its production quotas to stabilize crude oil prices, those prices immediately fell even further, touching lows not seen in four years. West Texas Intermediate briefly touched $70 a barrel while Brent crude was close behind, at $73.

Oil hit a high of $147 a barrel in July 2008, so Thursday’s drop represents an astonishing 52-percent decline in just over six years. This coincides with an 80-percent increase in crude oil production by the United States over that same period. As economies around the world struggle to regain their footing, thanks to failing Keynesian policies, the demand for crude remains about where it was 10 years ago. With flat demand and increasing supply, it was only a matter of time before prices started to fall.

American consumers are benefitting enormously,

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The Great Thanksgiving Hoax

This article was written by Richard J. Maybury and appeared a the Mises Institute’s website, Mises Daily this morning, November 27, 2014:

"The Embarkation of the Pilgrims from Del...

“The Embarkation of the Pilgrims from Delfthaven in Holland” (1844) by Robert Walter Weir (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Each year at this time, schoolchildren all over America are taught the official Thanksgiving story, and newspapers, radio, TV, and magazines devote vast amounts of time and space to it. It is all very colorful and fascinating.

It is also very deceiving. This official story is nothing like what really happened. It is a fairy tale, a whitewashed and sanitized collection of half-truths which divert attention away from Thanksgiving’s real meaning.

The official story has the Pilgrims boarding the Mayflower, coming to America, and establishing the Plymouth colony in the winter of 1620–21. This first winter is hard, and half the colonists die. But the survivors are hard-working and tenacious, and they learn new farming techniques from the Indians. The harvest of 1621 is bountiful. The pilgrims hold a celebration, and give thanks to God. They are grateful for the wonderful new abundant land He has given them.

The official story then has the Pilgrims living more or less happily ever after, each year repeating the first Thanksgiving. Other early colonies also have hard times at first, but they soon prosper and adopt the annual tradition of giving thanks for this prosperous new land called America.

The problem with this official story is that the harvest of 1621 was not bountiful, nor were the colonists hard-working or tenacious. 1621 was a famine year and many of the colonists were lazy thieves.

In his History of Plymouth Plantation, the governor of the colony, William Bradford, reported that the colonists went hungry for years because they refused to work in the field. They preferred instead to steal food. He says the colony was riddled with “corruption,” and with “confusion and discontent.” The crops were small because “much was stolen both by night and day, before it became scarce eatable.” 

In the harvest feasts of 1621 and 1622, “all had their hungry bellies filled,” but only briefly. The prevailing condition during those years was not the abundance the official story claims, it was famine and death. The first “Thanksgiving” was not so much a celebration as it was the last meal of condemned men.

But in subsequent years something changes. The harvest of 1623 was different. Suddenly, “instead of famine now God gave them plenty,” Bradford wrote, “and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God.” Thereafter, he wrote, “any general want or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day.” In fact, in 1624, so much food was produced that the colonists were able to begin exporting corn.

What happened? After the poor harvest of 1622, writes Bradford, “they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop.” They began to question their form of economic organization.

This had required that “all profits & benefits that are got by trade, traffic, trucking, working, fishing, or any other means” were to be placed in the common stock of the colony, and that, “all such persons as are of this colony, are to have their meat, drink, apparel, and all provisions out of the common stock.” A person was to put into the common stock all he could, and take only what he needed.

This “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” was an early form of socialism, and it is why the Pilgrims were starving. Bradford writes that “young men that were most able and fit for labor and service” complained about being forced to “spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children.” Also, “the strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes, than he that was weak.” So the young and strong refused to work and the total amount of food produced was never adequate.

To rectify this situation, in 1623 Bradford abolished socialism. He gave each household a parcel of land and told them they could keep what they produced, or trade it away as they saw fit. In other words, he replaced socialism with a free market, and that was the end of the famines. 

Many early groups of colonists set up socialist states, all with the same terrible results. At Jamestown, established in 1607, out of every shipload of settlers that arrived, less than half would survive their first twelve months in America. Most of the work was being done by only one-fifth of the men, the other four-fifths choosing to be parasites. In the winter of 1609–10, called “The Starving Time,” the population fell from five-hundred to sixty. Then the Jamestown colony was converted to a free market, and the results were every bit as dramatic as those at Plymouth. In 1614 Colony Secretary Ralph Hamor wrote that after the switch there was “plenty of food, which every man by his own industry may easily and doth procure.” He said that when the socialist system had prevailed, “we reaped not so much corn from the labors of thirty men as three men have done for themselves now.”

Before these free markets were established, the colonists had nothing for which to be thankful. They were in the same situation as Ethiopians are today, and for the same reasons. But after free markets were established, the resulting abundance was so dramatic that annual Thanksgiving celebrations became common throughout the colonies, and in 1863 Thanksgiving became a national holiday.

Thus, the real meaning of Thanksgiving, deleted from the official story, is: Socialism does not work; the one and only source of abundance is free markets, and we thank God we live in a country where we can have them.

Taxi Union Flexes Its Muscle, Shuts Down San Francisco International Airport

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, November 20, 2014: 

International Terminal of San Francisco Intern...

International Terminal of San Francisco International Airport

Stung by increasing competition from ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft, independent taxi drivers in San Francisco — where Uber got its start in the summer of 2010 — decided to do something about it: They joined a union. And the first thing that union did was what unions always do: They conducted a “work stoppage” — right in front of San Francisco International Airport (SFO) — with more than 600 taxis blocking traffic, honking their horns and flashing their lights from 9 to 11 p.m. Monday night, while refusing to pick up passengers.

Most unions are wont to picket employers, hoping to blackmail them into

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Pressure Building to Repeal Two Laws Keeping Oil and Gas Prices High

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, November 17, 2014:

Senator Lisa Murkowski

Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski

Alaskan Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, soon to chair the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, is already setting the table for a serious conversation about getting rid of at least one archaic law dating back to the mid-1970s: the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975.

That law bans the export of crude oil (with some minor exceptions) and could endanger the oil shale boom as a result. Said Murkowski:

The price American drivers pay for gasoline at their local station is linked to the price of oil set by the global market.

 

Exporting U.S. oil to our friends and allies will not raise gasoline prices here at home and should, in fact, help drive down prices.

As the price of crude oil drops, it increases the chances that smaller marginal crude oil producers will be forced to close unless they are allowed to find buyers outside the United States willing to pay more for their product. One of the bottlenecks has already been opened:

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House Votes to Approve Keystone, for Ninth Time

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, November 17, 2014:

Keystone XL demonstration, White House,8-23-20...

Keystone XL demonstration

In the first major vote in the House during the current lame duck session, on Friday a bill to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline passed by a vote of 252-161. In an ironic twist, the bill — the ninth one approving Keystone — was sponsored by Rep. Bill Cassidy, the Louisiana Republican facing Democrat Senator Mary Landrieu in a runoff election on December 6. Landrieu has been moving heaven and earth in the Senate to approve Keystone in an attempt to salvage her career.

Said Cassidy:

Here we are on the ninth attempt. It has been 539 days, about a year and a half, since the House first sent a Keystone approval bill to the Senate in this Congress. We are going to make it as easy as possible for the Senate to finally get a bill to president’s desk.

And there it will die, if it makes it that far, as President Obama has repeatedly stated. Which raises the question:

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Fracking Mythbusters

This is the second of two articles on fracking that will appear shortly in the print edition of The New American magazine:

Myths become reality only when they are left unchallenged. There are so many myths, half-truths, misstatements, and distortions about the issue of fracking that one scarcely knows where to begin. The most egregious is the falsehood that “you can light your tap water on fire because of fracking.”

This canard first saw the light of day in Gasland, a propaganda piece produced by Josh Fox (pictured below) and funded and supported by various extremist members and groups affiliated with the environmental movement. Early in the film, Fox showed a flaming faucet belonging to Weld County, Colorado, homeowner Mike Markham. In that segment, when a lighted match touched water flowing from his kitchen faucet, it virtually exploded into flame.

Not mentioned in that sequence, however, was that Markham knew about his flaming faucet well before Fox showed up on his doorstep with his cameramen and that he also knew that

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Fracking Boom and the Development of America’s Energy Resources

This article will appear as the cover story in the next issue of The New American print magazine:

Travis Wright’s first impressions of Williston, North Dakota, in January 2012 remain vivid. It was bitter cold and the Walmart parking lot was filled to overflowing with campers and RVs whose owners were using them as de facto homes while working in the oil fields. Once inside Walmart, Travis discovered pallets of goods blocking the aisles as the understaffed nighttime crew of stockers simply couldn’t keep up with demand. He quickly learned to do his shopping in the middle of the night when the lines were only 30 minutes long. He learned later that this Walmart in Williston was the highest-grossing one in North America. The local economy was booming to such an extent that even paying $17 an hour for entry-level jobs, store officials couldn’t find enough employees to work for that amount.

Travis — at 6′6″ and 280 pounds, his friends called him Big ‘Un — was also astonished to learn

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51 OECD Countries Sign Tax Evasion Treaty

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, November 3, 2014: 

Last Wednesday’s agreement among 51 countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Berlin to share tax information across borders in a continuing effort to crack down on tax evasion was announced with great excitement but precious little logic.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told the group at a meeting entitled the “Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes” that the agreement is “a joint contribution to more transparency and fairness in our globalized 21st century.” Britain’s Finance Minister George Osborne added, “Tax evasion is not just illegal, it is immoral. You are robbing from your fellow citizens and you should be treated like a common thief.” Said Osborne, the new treaty “strikes a blow on behalf of hard-working taxpayers.”

A careful look reveals that the new treaty in fact is designed to benefit tax collectors, not taxpayers.

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Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.