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Over the course of the past four decades, I've sketched scenarios of the future many times. All of it was animated by Atlas Shrugged. I read it in 1973. The personal consequences were profound. It very nearly cost me my life, and withall set the path of my ambition.

I have come to think of Atlas as polemic, rather than fine literature, a designation that I give gladly to The Fountainhead. The achievement of Atlas Shrugged was accurate prediction of America's trajectory. It is an illusion of the first order, a trick of mass hypnosis, that we claim to be a prosperous industrial society today. These words are being composed on a Chinese laptop. Our server farms are powered by an ocean of public and private debt, so deep that it cannot be measured without immediate accusation of macroeconomic ignorance. In private correspondence with Milton Friedman 33 years ago, I worried that the money supply had exceeded the ratio of World War II expenditure to real GDP. Friedman replied that the only thing that mattered was the rate of monetary growth. And so it has. The Fed blew a hot air balloon of toxic assets after GSE agency paper exempted mortgage originators from risk. Treasury debt, pensions, entitlements, bank capital, and paper equity have been racheted into the stratosphere by "financial repression." The EU central bank amped it up a notch farther, imposing negative interest rates and penalizing savers. Deutsche Bank is shedding tens of thousands of staff to delay bankruptcy. Ford and GM exited the EU car market.

Uber, Tesla, Snapchat, and shale frackers have never made a dime of profit. Without USPS subsidies, Amazon would have died an ugly death long ago. Facebook and Google are 100%dependent on advertising, the first thing to cut in a sustained recession. Apple and Nike are Chinese sweatshop phenomena, high priced luxury goods sold to debt junkies employed by government agencies, government contractors, finance companies, and a growing cohort of "health care" paper pushers. Gangbangers suffer the indignity of 3G Obamaphones, stolen Nikes, and EBT chump change for cigarettes and booze.

Education is brain dead, coast to coast, kindergarten to grad school.

So far, Atlas has not shrugged, but he's old and tired, sidelined by outsourcing, disgusted by fake news and a million U.S. soldiers and sailors overseas, a never ending commitment to defend foreigners who hate us and crave the pallets of Benjamins and high tech armaments that we toss around like confetti to prop up phony "allies" and secret police in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Bahrain, Qatar, South Korea, and Britain, plus the IMF, World Bank, and every charity operating in Africa. War with Iran? Sure. Blockade is an act of war, no different than invading Iraq and Afghanistan (Bush) and destroying Libya, Syria, and Venezuela (Obama).

The future? -- an Etch A Sketch shaken and erased by "climate change," hordes of illiterate immigrants sick with contagious diseases, tens of millions of Boomers and Gen Xers cashing out and shorting the stock market, Social Security and Medicare insolvent and unfixable. No doubt the Democratic Socialists will take over. Empty malls, martial law, and Eddie Willers attempting to restart an engine of motive power, a 737 MAX whose autostabilizer code forces it to crash and cannot be debugged, because it was co-authored by a virtual team in six time zones, most of whom scurried like rats to new virtual work groups in the Gig Economy, maybe self-driving commuter helicopters that no one can afford to purchase or insure.

.

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Nice rant, Wolfo, but there is no federal debt. All that "debt" is in spent dollars which are from a sovereign (fiat) currency. If your trillion buck T-bill has matured the US Treasury will give you another--roll it over--or credit your account with a trillion dollars. Just-by-pushing-a-button.

Because of inflation you don't preserve wealth in any fiat currency but in assets.

--Branto

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15 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

Nice rant, Wolfo, but there is no federal debt. All that "debt" is in spent dollars which are from a sovereign (fiat) currency. If your trillion buck T-bill has matured the US Treasury will give you another--roll it over--or credit your account with a trillion dollars. Just-by-pushing-a-button.

Because of inflation you don't preserve wealth in any fiat currency but in assets.

--Branto

So, would you advise to get out of stocks? What a roller coaster. It would stink if the money people put under their mattresses a decade ago is now worth half as much. Silver coins have kept their value. I know because a few years ago after asking my kids if they wanted my old coin collection they said no, and I sold it. I did all right. I still scoff at bitcoin. How is it doing?

Hollywood clichés like opening the old safe and seeing stacks of currency are still being filmed. Stacks of a hundred bucks from 1970 may still be worth enough to cause a gasp. What else is found? A bag of diamonds. Gold bricks and coins. I don't feel like lookin up inflation rates but the dollar is still sound.     

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16 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

A stock is an asset.

--Brant

Did you own any stock issued by "Toys R Us?" 

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15 hours ago, Peter said:

Did you own any stock issued by "Toys R Us?" 

A house is an asset--until it burns down.

--Brant

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Burn down the house? Boo! In bad taste Brant. Fox was just saying the greatest source of “current domestic terrorism” is young, single, white males.

Can philosophical theories be a tool for human survival and thriving as a species? I think Rand did. Imagine that you are going on a hike on the Appalachian Trail. What would you wear? What would you bring? Or imagine you are a youngster. What will you learn? How much can you play? Do I need a job or a skill? What do I like to do? What will my job be? Or, I am a planner for the human species. How will we survive for . . . eternity? What social system is best for the good life? Peter

Yahoo News. Charles Darwin 'may have been wrong about where life came from'  Did life start on the surface of our planet in a "warm little pond" as Charles Darwin believed — or did it bubble up from deep beneath the sea? end quote

From: "George H. Smith" Reply- To: "*Atlantis" Subject: ATL: Re: Free Will versus Evolution Date: Thu, 24 Jan 2002 12:48:10 -0600 Bill Dwyer wrote: "Let’s assume that free will exists.  If we take goal-directed action – self-preservation – survival – as the standard for explaining the action of living organisms, how does free will fit in?  What is its survival value?

"I understand the survival value of reason, of the ability to think and to conceptualize.  I do not understand the survival value of the choice to think or to evade?  How does that choice help us?  What survival advantages does it confer on those who possess it?  And if it confers no such advantages, then do we explain its evolutionary emergence?"

I don't really know how to address this point, since I don't know enough about evolutionary theory. But it at least seems clear that humans possess a number of characteristics, such as their aesthetic, philosophic, and religious sensibilities, that cannot be explained *solely* in terms of their "survival value."

Consciousness, as Roger Bissell recently pointed out, is an "emergent" phenomenon. This would also seem to be the case with the conceptual ability (and therefore volition) that we find in *some* conscious beings. An emergent characteristic is one that cannot be fully explained in terms of the laws that "govern" (and I used this term metaphorically) lower-level phenomena, though it does not contradict them. As applied to volition, this means that man's conceptual ability cannot be "reduced" to, i.e., be fully explained in terms of, the laws of physical causation, though it does not contradict them.

In any event, I think we *first* need to ascertain what characteristics a being possesses *before* we go about trying to explain them from an evolutionary perspective. I am reasonably familiar with various efforts to "explain" moral systems in terms of their evolutionary "survival value," and I must say that I am not very impressed with most of the accounts I have read thus far. I think it would be a dubious procedure indeed to deny the evidence for a given characteristic merely because we cannot fit it into an evolutionary scheme. Evolution is more of a theoretical *method* of explanation than it is a distinct theory per se. Ghs

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“South of the border, down Meh-hee-ko way.”  President Trump offered Mexico, our American military might and assistance to wipe out the drug cartel members who just murdered American citizens. Imagine that recipe. Recon. Informants. We sweep across the border with air support like we are after Baghdadi or Osama Bin Laden. We shoot or blow up the bastards. Soon, the drug cartel members change their location. Then we stir and repeat as needed. I think this is what our military is for, constitutionally and morally. It is there to protect our citizens even when the corrupt Mexican government cannot.

As we pull out of all the “forever wars” how will this affect the economy and our sense of ourselves? Perhaps with less debt (eventually) and greater prosperity. Growth has lessened the ratio of job seekers to jobs available and employers are becoming more aggressive in recruiting. Will we soon invite more “qualified” emigres into our country to fill those needed job slots? Peter   

Notes. South of the border - down Mexico way
That's where I fell in love, where the stars above - came out to play
And now as I wander - my thoughts ever stray
South of the border - down Mexico way

She was a picture - in old Spanish lace
Just for a tender while, I kissed a smile - upon her face
'Cause it was fiesta - and we were so gay
South of the border - Mexico way

Then she smiled as she whispered "ma'ana"
Never dreaming that we were parting
Then I lied as a whispered "ma'ana"
'Cause our tomorrow never came

South of the border - I jumped back one day
There in a veil of white, by the candle light - she knelt to pray
The mission bells told me (ding-dong) - that I musn't stay

South of the border - Mexico way. Songwriter: GENE AUTRY

 

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10 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

A house is an asset--until it burns down.

Brant,

Stocks are assets until they are shorted. Then they turn into casino chips that only have value in the casino until they are cashed out.

:)

Michael

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4 hours ago, Peter said:

South of the border - Mexico way. Songwriter: GENE AUTRY

Gene Autry sang the song "South of the Border" in a 1939 movie of the same name.  If Wikipedia can be believed the song was written by Jimmy Kennedy (lyrics) and Michael Carr (music).

It has been recorded many times since then.

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2 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Brant,

Stocks are assets until they are shorted. Then they turn into casino chips that only have value in the casino until they are cashed out.

:)

Michael

Shorted stocks are borrowed stocks and the owner never cashes them out because they were shorted.

--Brant

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5 hours ago, Peter said:

“South of the border, down Meh-hee-ko way.”  President Trump offered Mexico, our American military might and assistance to wipe out the drug cartel members who just murdered American citizens. Imagine that recipe. Recon. Informants. We sweep across the border with air support like we are after Baghdadi or Osama Bin Laden. We shoot or blow up the bastards. Soon, the drug cartel members change their location. Then we stir and repeat as needed. I think this is what our military is for, constitutionally and morally. It is there to protect our citizens even when the corrupt Mexican government cannot.

 

As we pull out of all the “forever wars” how will this affect the economy and our sense of ourselves? Perhaps with less debt (eventually) and greater prosperity. Growth has lessened the ratio of job seekers to jobs available and employers are becoming more aggressive in recruiting. Will we soon invite more “qualified” emigres into our country to fill those needed job slots? Peter   

 

Notes. South of the border - down Mexico way
That's where I fell in love, where the stars above - came out to play
And now as I wander - my thoughts ever stray
South of the border - down Mexico way

 

She was a picture - in old Spanish lace
Just for a tender while, I kissed a smile - upon her face
'Cause it was fiesta - and we were so gay
South of the border - Mexico way

 

Then she smiled as she whispered "ma'ana"
Never dreaming that we were parting
Then I lied as a whispered "ma'ana"
'Cause our tomorrow never came

 

South of the border - I jumped back one day
There in a veil of white, by the candle light - she knelt to pray
The mission bells told me (ding-dong) - that I musn't stay

 

South of the border - Mexico way. Songwriter: GENE AUTRY

 

 

 

This is the wrong war--the war on drugs--and it can't be/won't be won.

Gene AUTRY was the 1920s greatest selling recording artist.

--Brant

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6 hours ago, Peter said:

As we pull out of all the “forever wars”

 

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More crap from CNN. Crap has become the CNN default so unless it's gone through a crap filter it's crap.

--Brant

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8 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

Shorted stocks are borrowed stocks and the owner never cashes them out because they were shorted.

Brant,

In other words, casino chips.

They're only good for gambling--and only in the casino at that.

:) 

Michael

 

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5 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Brant,

In other words, casino chips.

They're only good for gambling--and only in the casino at that.

:) 

Michael

 

A stock certificate of a public company is title by an owner of a percentage of the business. If held by a clearing house it may be lent out by same to a brokerage for shorting. If the owner takes possession of the actual certificate it can't be lent.

If I short a stock at $100/share and the market price goes to $200 and I close the position the brokerage will remove $100 from my account and return the stock to the clearing house. What has changed in all this is possession, not ownership. If the stock price goes to zero and I close the position the brokerage returns it to the clearing house and credits my account for $100.

It's a fallacy to assume stock shorting is gambling though it can be for gamblers. Shorting can stabilize the value of a stock when a company comes with bad news. The price pluments then the shorters rush to cover their positions by buying it. Then the news turns out to be not so bad and the price goes back up.

Shorting dampens overall market volatility, especially potential volatility, and makes actual stock ownership more attractive.

--Brant

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3 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

It's a fallacy to assume stock shorting is gambling though it can be for gamblers.

Brant,

I disagree that it is a fallacy.

There are two sources of making profits in the stock market.

1. The Ponzi.
2. Companies creating actual wealth in goods and services.

In the case of the Ponzi, one person makes money only if another person loses it. Profits come only from buy-ins from others. The stock market kind of Ponzi is highly regulated and has lots of restrictions, but the principle is the same as the con. If Ponzi sounds offensive, we can say pyramid scheme. :) 

In the second case, the case of actual wealth creation (products and services), everyone makes money.

It might sound like I am dissing the Ponzi part, but I'm not. This melding of gambling and investing, to me, is sheer genius. People in general love to gamble and a stock market--as it currently exists--puts gambling money within the reach of wealth producers to fund their wealth-producing ventures.

All the rest is dressing this up to make it sound prettier than it is. Man, do insiders love to create complicated-sounding jargon, too.

:) 

On the upside, this understanding makes the gambling part noble and productive--by one degree of separation, granted, but still, participating in a process that funds producers is noble. :) 

Don't believe me about these two forms? Try this.

Imagine a situation were you take away all company growth-type investing and profits from a stock market and only leave schemes like shorting stocks. Can you eat anything produced by this? No. Can you travel in anything produced by it? No. Can you even make war with it? No. You need products and services for such and these schemes do not create products and services. They only create transfers of money based on new investors covering the profits of older investors. When new investors stop coming in, this part stops growing and the zero sum nature becomes quite clear.

Now do the contrary. Take away the Ponzis and leave only the company growth-type profits from the stock market. People will obviously use the products and services these companies produce. But will people be able to make money from investing? Yup. Lots of it if a company invested in is successful enough in selling its products and services to expand. This part is not zero-sum.

(There is a joker in the deck, government injecting new money into the market, but that does not change the nature of these two forms. It merely disguises them. But that is a longer discussion and beyond the scope of my point here.)

It took me a long, long time to come to this understanding. Now that I do understand it, I can put phrases like "dampening overall market volatility" and other such into a context that makes sense to me. (When I say context, I include crowd control, human behavior analysis, addiction, neurochemicals, etc. In other words, things that have nothing to do with wealth and everything to do with innate human nature.)

btw - I approve of this hybrid form. As long as gambling, Ponzis, etc., emerge from human nature, they will always be with humans in one form or another. So I see it as a plus to make them transparent, legal (to keep organized crime under control), and providing resources to fund actual producers.

After I came to my understanding, I even got validation from President Trump. In The Art of the Deal, he said he had a moral crisis before he went into casinos. He wondered if they were evil or sleazy or whatever. But then he looked at the stock market and saw it was a gigantic legal casino at root, so a real casino was not fundamentally different. That scratched his moral itch and off he went.

As an added thought, I came to my understanding only after I thought through another thing about money. Every penny in my pocket came from the hand or someone else. And that presupposes a relationship, no matter how remote or close. So even though it looks like money only represents value, it comes with strings by its very nature, that is relationships. Every cent comes with a relationship. That means a lot of money comes with a crap-load of relationships. If the nature of the people around one is crappy, and that is all one has, his or her money will inevitably provide more headaches than satisfaction (unless one likes crappy people :) ).

Michael

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19 hours ago, Mark said:

Gene Autry sang the song "South of the Border" in a 1939 movie of the same name.  If Wikipedia can be believed the song was written by Jimmy Kennedy (lyrics) and Michael Carr (music).

It has been recorded many times since then.

Thanks Mark and Brant. The lyrics I went to had GENE AUTRY in caps as the songwriter. 

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10 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Brant,

In other words, casino chips.

They're only good for gambling--and only in the casino at that.

:) 

Michael

 

The market is up and silver is down. DOW 27725. will it reach 28000? 

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On 11/7/2019 at 7:10 AM, Brant Gaede said:

A stock certificate of a public company is title by an owner of a percentage of the business. If held by a clearing house it may be lent out by same to a brokerage for shorting. If the owner takes possession of the actual certificate it can't be lent.

If I short a stock at $100/share and the market price goes to $200 and I close the position the brokerage will remove $100 from my account and return the stock to the clearing house. What has changed in all this is possession, not ownership. If the stock price goes to zero and I close the position the brokerage returns it to the clearing house and credits my account for $100.

It's a fallacy to assume stock shorting is gambling though it can be for gamblers. Shorting can stabilize the value of a stock when a company comes with bad news. The price pluments then the shorters rush to cover their positions by buying it. Then the news turns out to be not so bad and the price goes back up.

Shorting dampens overall market volatility, especially potential volatility, and makes actual stock ownership more attractive.

--Brant

Hi Brant.

Regarding possession changing but not ownership; after shares are lent to a short-seller and sold, a new person is introduced who now also calls themselves the owner of those shares, in addition to the owner they were lent from. It will be fixed when the short-seller later buys shares and gives them back, closing the loan of shares, but in the meantime (and all the time for those stock issues that are shorted) there are more shares of the company in circulation than there are shares of the company.

Example:

Company A has issued 10 shares and there are 10 shareholders, each one owning one share, or 10% of the company.

Brant calls his broker looking to short sell stock A. One share is loaned to Brant and he sells it.

Jon bought a share of stock A today having no idea of any of the above. He believes himself to be an owner of one share of Company A. And all ten original shareholders also consider themselves owners of one share of Company A.

That's 11 owners of 10 shares.

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When you short a stock you don't own it. Owners don't short what they own. I live in a house. I can't borrow it burn it down and make money outside of criminal and financial fraud. Borrowing what you own is a contradiction.

Good try, Jon, but now the discussion is semantcal.

--Brant

nothing was sold to the short seller but the right to buy, but not the right to buy at a set price; that's the realm of options; that right to buy may not be exercisable in the ten share company so millions of trading shares are needed in markets or the shorts are never put on--even so the short seller can be destroyed in a short squeeze so he might buy call options to protect his position 

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40 minutes ago, Brant Gaede said:

When you short a stock you don't own it. Owners don't short what they own. I live in a house. I can't borrow it burn it down and make money outside of criminal and financial fraud. Borrowing what you own is a contradiction.

Good try, Jon, but now the discussion is semantcal.

--Brant

Not semantics, an 11th owner of 10 shares.

The short seller is not the 11th owner, but who he sells to is.

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3 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

nothing was sold to the short seller but the right to buy 

Nothing is sold to the short seller, period.

The short seller wants to sell that which he does not own, (that which he is “short” of.)

So shares are loaned to him and he immediately sells them. (He is legally required  to later buy shares and give them back, closing the loan.)

The buyer of these sold short shares is the new owner — from thin air, meaning in excess of shares issued by the company — introduced by the act of selling the borrowed shares.

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In fact, the short seller must pay all dividends that occur while the trade is active, meaning until the short seller buys shares to cover his loan.

Why would the short seller be required to pay dividends, doesn’t the company that issued the stock pay those? The company does pay those, to all of the legitimate owners of their stock.

The owner that the short seller created out of thin air is also expecting a dividend and that is who receives the dividend payments the short seller is required to pay, four times a year.

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