07 May 2011


The crisis of 2007-08 was a typical central-bank-induced boom and bust, an illustration of the maxim that central banking is the disease that it affects to cure.

[Rewrite all of this a bit stylistically].

When a bubble bursts disastrously, the critical question is not why it burst – it burst because it was a bubble! – But how it could have been blown up into the dimensions that made its bursting so dire an event. The answer to that is here, as it is often, some version of the “greater fool” theory.

Sooner or later the greatest available fools will be the ones already in possession, and then the situation proves unsustainable, and unfortunate -- not just for them, but for a variety of counter-parties who have come to depend upon those who turned out to be the greatest fools.

Listen to the cheerleader moral support that the greatest fools were getting as late in the process as December 2007. "There is no recession. Despite all the doom and gloom from the economic pessimistas, the resilient U.S economy continues moving ahead—quarter after quarter, year after year—defying dire forecasts and delivering positive growth. In fact, we are about to enter the seventh consecutive year of the Bush boom."

So said Larry Kudlow, cable TV economics maven. It's important not to let these blowhards go utterly uncorrected as the realities they denied smack us in the face. Its important because otherwise naive folk might think Kudlow is saying something of significance the next time he bloviates.

So let the record show: a boom is the necessary preface to a bust. Bubbles can't burst until they've been blown. The "Bush boom" for which Kudlow was still cheerleading even as it disappeared, like the Clinton boom before it, was a central-bank promoted drinking binge, necessitating an awful hangover.

And geniuses like Kudlow are the alcoholics at the party who are always saying, "I've only had two or three."

That's how an alcoholic counts, by the way.

One, two, three, four, two-or-three, two-or-three, two-or-three.

This is the dynamic that Greenspan enabled and even encouraged through monetary policy. Especially after the 1998 LTCM crisis, investors had the impression that the Fed would act as the greatest fool, and rescue any large institution in trouble as necessary.

Blaming, and cracking down on, leverage or speculation on this basis is rather like responding to an outbreak of rickets by cracking down on Vitamin D peddlers.

The way forward begins with the repealof the legal tender laws. [Explain.]

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Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.