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Elizabeth Warren — The Quiet Revolutionary Who Could Challenge Hillary Clinton in Democrats' 2016 Race

November 16, 2013 in Blogs

By Dan Roberts, The Guardian

Senator's tough stance against Wall Street is attracting voters on the left who are disenchanted with the party establishment.


Not many political “rock stars” inspire audience members to knit, but, even by Washington's sedate standards, the darling of America's new left is a quiet revolutionary.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, a former Harvard professor turned Wall Street scourge, is one of a clutch of unlikely radicals giving hope to those disenchanted with mainstream Democrats.

Hours before a rare public appearance last week, one of the largest rooms in Congress begins slowly filling up with an odd mix of groupies: policy wonks, finance geeks, Occupy activists, and, yes, the type of political conference attendee who brings their knitting in.

Warren proceeds to calmly recite numbers that could inspire even librarians to storm a few barricades. The Wall Street crash has cost the US economy $14tn, she says, but its top institutions are 30% larger than before, own half the country's bank assets and are in receipt of an implicit taxpayer subsidy of $83bn a year because they are deemed too big to fail.

“We have got to get back to running this country for American families, not for its largest financial institutions,” concludes Warren, before noting how little President Barack Obama has done to achieve that.

When the same message was delivered to union leaders in September, she had them standing on their chairs. But for the first time since the banking crash, the argument is connecting at the ballot box too. Mayoral elections in Boston and New York two weeks ago saw leftwing candidates with similar messages about economic inequality win by surprising landslides.

Meanwhile, Terry McAuliffe, the former Clinton fundraiser who epitomises the business-friendly Democrat mainstream, saw his substantial poll lead in Virginia all but evaporate under attack from populists on the right.

Whereas the Tea Party has worked relentlessly since the financial crash to recast the Republican party as a perceived challenger to Wall Street, Democrats such as Obama and his potential successor Hillary Clinton rely heavily on financial donors and have veered away from confrontation. But …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Barron’s Reports on Skyscraper Curse Signal

November 16, 2013 in Economics

By Mark Thornton

Review
| SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2013
The Skyscraper Index: Edifice Complex

By ROBIN GOLDWYN BLUMENTHAL | MORE ARTICLES BY AUTHOR
The U.S. has a new tallest building—One World Trade Center in New York—and that has conjured up some novel reading of economic tea leaves.

To some, a new skyscraper is a sign that hubris has again swept the land. The announcement last week that the U.S. has a new tallest building—the 1,776-foot-high World Trade Center, according to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat—conjured up a novel reading of economic tea leaves.

The reason: a theory loosely known as the Skyscraper Index, developed in 1999 by Andrew Lawrence, then research director at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein. The index argues that record-tall buildings are evidence of a business cycle peaking out and thus predict economic distress. The index has seemingly been on the mark at times. Lawrence claims record buildings foreshadowed the Panic of 1907 (New York’s Singer and Met Life towers), the Great Depression (the Empire State Building), the Asia Crisis (Malaysia’s Petronas Twin Towers) and Great Recession (Dubai’s Burj Khalifa).

Too Tall: The index argues that record-tall buildings are a sign of a business cycle peaking out.

One fan is Mark Thornton, a senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Ala., who recently penned a paper titled “Skyscraper Curse to Hit New York.” Thornton applies Austrian business-cycle theory to big buildings. “You’re seeing these symbolic points of information coming out,” he says.

Still, the index should be treated with caution. One World Trade has been in the works for over a decade, spanning several cycles. And New York’s office-building market is “beginning to see some positive momentum,” says Laurel Durkay, a REIT analyst at Cohen & Steers. Last year, when asked about the index, Lawrence called it “an anecdotal guide to the cycle,” according to the Council on Tall Buildings. A grain of salt, maybe two, is in order.

– Lawrence C. Strauss

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Chomsky’s Right: The New York Times’ Latest Big Lie

November 16, 2013 in Blogs

By Patrick Smith, Salon.com

More misleading half-truths from a paper too cowed by power and myth to tell the truth about U.S. foreign policy.


Never before have I written a column concerning nothing more than a pair of quotation marks. Then again, never until now have I seen the power of punctuation so perniciously deployed.

It is not a new trick. Very popular in hackdom during the Cold War decades. Enclose something in quotation marks and all between them is instantly de-legitimized; no argument or explanation need be made. Here, try it:

“… the Cuban ‘doctors’ sent to Angola…”

Or: “… Soviet-made ‘farm equipment’ in Portugal since its 1974 revolution…”

Well, they were doctors and it was farm equipment. In the latter category I sat in a Soviet tractor out in the Portuguese vineyards, and damn it if the camponês did not find it useful.

In the end, this kind of thing is simply passive aggression, my least favorite neurosis. No one actively lies such that one can confront and reveal. It is lying by misleading and by implication, so sending us off full of groundless conviction and prejudice.

In this case, we have the irresponsible use of inverted commas, as the Brits say, to shape national opinion on a question of vital importance. The question is Iran. And now to the supine, corrupted and corrupting organ.

You have taken a wild guess, and you are right. We have our familiar problem with our friends on Eighth Avenue, the New York Times, faithful servants of the sanctioned orthodoxy. I give these folks an “A” for clever disguise this time, and I flunk them in the professional ethics class. Simply shameful, this round of reckless chicanery.

Here is the situation.

As all know, a deal with Iran over its nuclear program is the biggest game going these days — an historic opportunity, as previously asserted in this space. Fumble this, and the Obama administration will go down as hopelessly moronic on the foreign-relations side.

You may know, too, that a …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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‘Nothing Is so Galling to a People as a Meddling Government’

November 16, 2013 in Economics

By Mises Updates

4766

Guest Post: Galling Government

by Gary Galles

Americans live with paternalist government that nudges (and shoves) them to do what it deems best and “help” everyone with everything. But government is just flawed people with worse information and worse incentives than the individuals directly involved, putting reason and evidence on liberty’s side.

One of liberty’s most insightful defenders against the ever-encroaching state was Thomas Babington, Lord Macaulay. Statesman, historian and writer, “the most influential of the British classical liberals” advocated freedom, contrasted with the failings and abuses of government control.

Macaulay defended what he opened his History of England with: “the authority of law and the security of property were found to be compatible with a liberty of discussion and of individual action never before known…from the auspicious union of order and freedom, sprang a prosperity from which the annals of human affairs had furnished no example.” In particular, he devastated statism in “Southey’s Colloquies on Society,” still relevant today.

Washington today lectures Americans on what is true, fair, ethical, and moral. But Macaulay asked “is there any reason for believing that a government is more likely to lead the people in the right way than the people…themselves?” The answer: “[W]e see no reason for thinking that the opinions of the magistrate on speculative questions are more likely to be right than those of any other man.” Where individuals really agree on such issues, government is unnecessary; where we don’t, government simply imposes one group’s will on others.

Washington also intrudes into virtually every decision, “not merely to see that the persons and property of the people are secure from attack, but… spending our money for us, and choosing our opinions for us…that no man can do anything so well for himself as his rulers.” The problem is that government “may be quite competent to protect the persons and property of the rest, yet quite unfit to direct our opinions, or to superintend our private habits.”

Government is handicapped in directing our opinions because “Government…carries on controversy, not with reasons, but with threats and bribes…instead of a contest between argument and argument, we have a contest between argument and force…in which truth can be victorious only by accident.”

Government is hamstrung in its efforts “for our own good” because “The duties of government would be…paternal, if a government were necessarily… superior in wisdom…and …loved a people as fathers generally love their children. But there is no reason to believe that …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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This Week’s ‘Mises Daily’ Articles

November 16, 2013 in Economics

By Mises Updates

Monday: Human Reason and A Priori Economics by David Gordon

Tuesday: Europeans Looking To Inflate Their Debts Away by Andrew Cullen

Wednesday: Lawyers, Film, and Money: Copyrighting the First Movies by Brian LaSorsa

Thursday: The Economics of ObamaCare by Robert P. Murphy

Friday: 90 Years Ago: The End of German Hyperinflation by Thorsten Polleit

Weekend: The Skyscraper Curse Hits New York by Mark Thornton

The Full Archive 

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Mark Thornton on New York’s Contribution to the Ill-fated Skyscraper Race

November 16, 2013 in Economics

By Mises Updates

6589

Writes Robyn Blumenthal at Barron’s today:

The index argues that record-tall buildings are evidence of a business cycle peaking out and thus predict economic distress. The index has seemingly been on the mark at times. Lawrence claims record buildings foreshadowed the Panic of 1907 (New York’s Singer and Met Life towers), the Great Depression (the Empire State Building), the Asia Crisis (Malaysia’s Petronas Twin Towers) and Great Recession (Dubai’s Burj Khalifa).

One fan is Mark Thornton, a senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Ala., who recently penned a paper titled “Skyscraper Curse to Hit New York.”  Thornton applies Austrian business-cycle theory to big buildings. “You’re seeing these symbolic points of information coming out,” he says.

See Mark Thornton’s Mises Daily article on the Skyscraper Curse posted today:

It is now official! New York City has won the title of having the nation’s tallest structure. The heated controversy between New York and Chicago was settled recently when the Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (based in Chicago) decided that the 408-foot spire sitting atop the One World Trade Center could be included in the total height of the building.

The Curse originated during the Panic of 1907. Two skyscrapers were under construction during this time, the Singer Building opened in 1908 and the Metropolitan Life Building opened in 1909, and each would become the world’s tallest. In 1929, America’s Great Depression was ushered in with the opening of the 40 Wall Street Building (currently the Trump Building), then came the Chrysler Building in 1930, and the Empire State Building in 1931. The booming 1960s was followed by the stagflation of the 1970s and saw more record-setting skyscrapers being built with inflated money, among them World Trade Towers 1 & 2 and the Sears Building which all opened in the early 1970s.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Blame it on Gutenberg?

November 16, 2013 in Economics

By Thorsten Polleit

hyperinflation

As I explained in my Mises Daily article on Friday, on 15 November 1923, German hyperinflation was finally brought to a halt. That was 90 years ago.

This image is titled: “Gutenberg and the billion press”.

The subtitle is: “I never intended this”.

It is taken from the German satirical magazine Simplicissimus, 1923.

It was put out after the terrible and devastating experience with paper money – over which a central bank, the Reichsbank, had full control.

The truth value of the image is unchanged, though, it seems: If you put into place a machine with the capacity to churn out new money without any limit, the machine will do exactly this – like today’s central banks!

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Can Smoking Pot Be Considered a Form of Free Speech?

November 16, 2013 in Blogs

By Aaron Kase, AlterNet

Activists lit up in protest of the War on Drugs—now they face severe charges.


The latest front in the battle for rationalized drug laws is in downtown Philadelphia, where an activist facing a federal trial for marijuana possession asserts that he was smoking as a constitutionally protected method of political expression.

“This site is preserved for the First Amendment,” Chris Goldstein said, pointing toward the glass and brick building near 6th and Market Street that contains the Liberty Bell. “That’s why we’re here.”

Goldstein and one other defendant will plead their case in a December trial that could result in six months in prison and $1,000 in fines.

“They’re taking the full weight of the law against us, ostensibly for that single joint,” said Goldstein, standing on the federal park space that lies in the shadow of Independence Hall. It’s here, at the site where the country’s founding fathers signed the U.S. Constitution that gives all Americans the right to free speech, where he’s been leading monthly “Smoke Down Prohibition” protests in his role as co-chair of the Philadelphia NORML chapter.

Activists have gathered to speak out against federal marijuana laws, and sometimes light up to make their point, since October 2012, but no one was cited until May. Since then, the local U.S. Attorney has started cracking down. More than 30 people have received tickets for $175, an several have been arrested . Goldstein was given a violation once in June and then again in August, and the feds are claiming it’s because he was cited twice that they are dragging him in for trial.

He sees it differently. “We’ve experienced very inconsistent enforcement,” Goldstein said. “They seek to prosecute us for making a stand for cannabis rights.”

The government does seem intent on making an example of smokers, despite President Obama’s assurance last year that the feds have “bigger fish to fry” than going after individuals. “People should know there are serious penalties for breaking the law on federal property,” a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office told Philly.com. The Department of Justice released a memo just this August that …read more

Source: ALTERNET