Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Warming Up the Helicopters

They had then learned how easy it is to issue it; how difficult it is to check its overissue; how seductively it leads to the absorption of the means of the workingmen and men of small fortunes; how heavily it falls on all those living on fixed incomes, salaries or wages; how securely it creates on the ruins of the prosperity of all men of meagre means a class of debauched speculators, the most injurious class that a nation can harbor,—more injurious, indeed, than professional criminals whom the law recognizes and can throttle; how it stimulates overproduction at first and leaves every industry flaccid afterward; how it breaks down thrift and develops political and social immorality.

The above doesn’t refer to Venezuela or Zimbabwe in modern times.  These words were written in 1896 by Andrew D. White, in relation to the calamitous experience of the French with fiat money in the 1790s (only some 70 years after a similar debacle involving the collapse of the Banque Générale under John Law). And they could very well be applied to our current global zero interest rate environment.

This week The Spear got to listen to one of Japan’s leading investment banking economists talking about Japanese Helicopter money, a policy which is already covertly underway via on-market debt purchases of government bonds by the BOJ, but which may become more overt over the coming years.  His long-term outlook was grim: eventual hyperinflation.

Japan has a three digit currency rate today because of a similar experience in the 1930’s, when the central bank was directly underwriting government debt issues and engaging in widespread stimulus programs due to the great depression (which got our of control after the finance minister was assassinated by the military due to his attempts to reduce military spending).

And today from CNBC:

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Wednesday his government would compile a stimulus package of more than $265 billion to reflate the flagging economy, media reported, though it is unclear how much will be spent to directly boost growth.

The premier's 28 trillion yen ($265.30 billion) stimulus package, which exceeds initial estimates of around 20 trillion yen, includes 13 trillion yen in "fiscal measures," Jiji reported. Those measures are likely to include spending by national and local governments, as well as loan programs.
Abe's announcement, via a speech in southern Japan, came earlier than expected and pressures the Bank of Japan to match his big spending plan with additional monetary easing at its closely-watched rate review ending on Friday.

"The amount is so large that the stimulus package is bound to have a big economic impact. It is impossible to spend this much money in one extra budget, so this may take place over the next few years," said Hiroshi Miyazaki, senior economist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.

"The BOJ is likely to ease policy, including increasing government debt purchases, so you could say the BOJ can absorb the new debt. It also makes it easier to show that the BOJ and the government are working together."

Unfortunately in our global economy, this type of action spurs central bank easing by the likes of the ECB and Fed who want to maintain a competitive currency, for currency markets are a zero-sum game.  Japan actually ends up exporting its current deflation to the rest of the world.  Cheap debt is used to maintain standards of living, and the debt pile grows bigger yet, necessitating further easing.
As the use of the helicopter - the printing press - becomes more frequent, common and overt with seemingly no consequences, the more likely we are to use it.

Once the helicopter is in use, money has become a political tool.  There can be no helicopter money without collusion between the central bank and government, as it is a fusing of monetary and fiscal policy.
But when the free money stops, there be a lot of wailing (and assassinations).  And since the only thing a politician fears more than death is unpopularity, once the helicopter starts it is almost impossible to stop.

Stimulus, anyone?

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Evolutionary Monotheism

Societies without a fear of God have a habit of disappearing in the long run, as do those polytheistic societies with a pick-and-choose menu of Gods (which The Spear would argue waters down the whole concept of theistic omnipotence, and hence the fear).  The polytheistic ancient Egyptians, Greeks, pagans and Aztecs.  The cosmopolitan Roman empire, with their cult of the Emperor, conquered by Christians.  The conquering of animistic and polytheistic tribes by Islam.  The iconoclasm of Communist states driving religion underground for decades, only making those of faith more resolute.  The survival of the Jews despite great persecution.

How does one compete with a belligerent ideology whose adherents are willing to die for their beliefs?  How does one defeat a self-reinforcing idea which calls for conversion or eradication of unbelievers?

To paraphrase an old saying, the atheists have the watches, but the theists have the time.

While we in the west may like to think that science and technology has conquered religion - that, in the words of Nietzsche, God is dead - The Spear would argue that in the long run, it is these very things which shall spell the doom of largely irreligious societies (i.e most of the modern western world).

Theism will always beat atheism in the long run, because theists are willing to fight for their beliefs, in a literal sense.  They are willing to die (and sometimes kill) for it.  They are fighting with the belief that God is on their side, and that by doing so they shall be rewarded in the after-life.  Who among the atheists are willing to put their life on the line to protect mere worldly possessions whose very utility will be negated if the fight shall be lost?  No virgins, no pearly gates and eternal bliss for the Godless.  Better to lay low, beg for mercy or convert if threatened (theists have weapons too, and no fear of mutually assured destruction).

Perhaps atheists would die for their children or family, but there is no purely selfish motivation.  Capitalism is such a strong force because it hijacks people’s greed and selfishness.  In a way, a religion which promises rewards in the afterlife for following its doctrine uses the same incentive mechanism.  Atheists, on the other hand, weakly cling to life in the hope that the ultimatum of ‘convert or die’ does not come a knocking, because theirs is a bluff that will inevitably be forced to fold.

Why fight?  Why kill?  Unable to comprehend the thought processes of someone for whom death is welcomed, you beg for your life to logically be spared.  There is no logical reason for you to die, you say, as if you are arguing with someone who values a boat or a car as much more than they do eternal bliss (which to them is a very real notion).  You cannot win that argument without converting unless you fight and risk entering the eternal nothingness for which you believe awaits. 

So you convert.  So you may have to follow some silly rituals, who cares?  At least you cling to your worldly possessions for another day.  But your children may very well become true believers.  

Ad infinitum.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Expert who confidently predicted Bremain confidently predicts dire results of Brexit


Local expert Benjamin Hammersmith, who mere moments before the Brexit vote tally was confidently predicting a 95% chance of a Remain outcome, has today released a report forecasting the exact amount of economic and social damage the Brexit vote is to have out to 2066.

Mr Hammersmith’s report, entitled “A Specific Scientific Quantification of Brexit Impacts over the next 49.5 years,” goes into great detail upon the precise effects that the Brexit vote, which took him completely by surprise, is to have on many measures including GDP, Unemployment, Inflation, rates of Domestic Violence, changes in sea level, global surface temperatures and rates of Islamophobia.

“Our modelling shows that by 2066, Britain is to have a GDP up to 15.5% lower than would otherwise be the case,” Mr Hammersmith said of his half-century forecasts which shared the same fundamental biases, unquantifiable unknowns and human fudge factors as his models which failed to predict the results of a national vote which had already occurred mere moments in the past.

“If there’s one thing that readers should take away, it’s that Britain will DEFINITELY be worse off as a result of Brext, now and forever,” said the man whom at that very moment could still not process the fact that the real world had deviated from the lazy assumptions, estimates and just plain pluck-it-out-of-your-arse guesses that underpinned the beautiful black and white results that he would have preferred.  “15.5% worse off.  And don’t get me started on the impact on the polar bear numbers!”

At press time, Mr Hammersmith was heard to be muttering that the logic underlying his democratic model remained sound, and that it clearly must have been the voters who had produced the wrong result.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Too Sexy for Sadiq

In case you missed it, this week saw London Mayor Sadiq Khan announce a ban on “body-shaming” ads on the London Underground.  The move came in response to Protein World’s “Are you beach body ready?” weight-loss protein powder advert below, which sparked a protest in Hyde Park, as well as the obligatory petition (although it was not banned by the Advertising Standards Authority).

 The gist of the argument made by Mr Khan et al is that the advert can demean, upset or offend people by making them feel ashamed of their bodies.  We the people have been deemed too fragile to look upon an ‘unrealistic’ bikini clad model, lest we feel inadequate in our own skin.

Yet by that logic, The Spear must argue that the following advertisement must also be banned:

 Usain Bolt, you magnificent bastard with your rippling guns!  No matter how hard The Spear trains he will never be as fast, toned, black or cool as you!  The Spear can never change that!  Stop making him and countless others feel inadequate in their own puny unathletic uncool skins with your ‘unrealistic’ image!

But far from a Hyde park protest and a petition, the advert actually proclaims “Celebration” of the fastest man on Earth.  It recognises that this man is the best in the world at something, largely due to his physical attributes, and it celebrates his excellence.  Now why can’t we similarly celebrate other people for being exceptional in their own way, even if that way is having a great bikini body?

You may say the bikini body advert is sexualised, that the woman’s confidence stance is suggestive, even aggressive, and ‘forward’.  Oh no!  But isn’t that something the feminists should be cheering -  the right of a woman to show off her body, no more than she would at the beach, without fear of being judged for being too ugly or too ‘sexy’?  And doesn’t it make sense that a company that makes weightloss products would want to associate their product with somebody with an ‘unrealistically’ sexy body?

Perhaps Sadiq and the protestors would prefer a more modest advert, one showing less skin, possibly along the lines of:

But not so fast – still too confident and with a smile that suggests this woman knows how to have a ‘good time'.  And the show of the ankle! Better be on the safe side in case someone gets offended:

  The Spear is once more reminded of Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘The Sirens or Titan’ whereby Earth’s society creates a religion of “The Church of God the Utterly Indifferent”, whereby people do their best to diminish advantages that exist amongst themselves in order for everyone to be equal.

Every strong member of faith accepted handicaps gladly, wore them proudly everywhere. The weakest and meekest were bound to admit, at last, that the race of life was fair”.

“Everyone wore handicaps of some sort. Most handicaps were of an obvious sort - sashweights, bags of shot, furnace grates - meant to hamper physical advantages. But there were, among Redwine’s parishioners, several true believers who had chosen handicaps of a subtler and more telling kind. There were women who had received by dint of dumb luck the terrific advantage of beauty. They had annihilated that unfair advantage with frumpish clothes, bad posture, chewing gum, and a ghoulish use of cosmetics. One old man, whose only advantage was excellent eyesight, had spoiled that eyesight by wearing his wife’s spectacles”.

In another short story of a similar vein, Vonnegut has intelligent people purposely handicapped by the government with radios in their ears which buzz with nonsense whenever they start thinking too much.

If you support the removal of this advertisement, logically you must support the removal of the Bolt advertisement, and the removal of any other public displays of natural inequality in stature or talent.  While we can’t all have the bikini body of the woman in the advert (oh how The Spear cries his nights away), neither can we all be a gifted sportsmen, artist or mathematician.  Sure, we can make some improvements, but thankfully, we will never be truly equal.  How boring would a world without ‘unrealistic’ exceptions be?

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Election De-rection

There are many advantages to not watching free-to-air television.  You can spend more time reading.  You can spend more time writing.  You can even spend more time posting pyramids depicting the hierarchy of victimhood, and then deleting them lest you are destroyed socially, financially and physically.  The number one benefit, however, has got to be isolation from the political advertisements of election season (although due to their sheer prevalence The Spear has still been subjected to a few via the internet and in passing).

‘But why?’ you ask The Spear.  ‘As a self-avowed Conservative, surely you are relishing the moment, and are merely counting down the days towards another Coalition victory, led by none other than your king of kings, Malcolm the Great?’  Alas, to do so would be to a) think that a Coalition victory was assured and to b) believe that The Spear would think this were the preferred outcome, neither of which are true.

Joining the growing ranks of the ‘Delcons’, those Delusional-Conservatives who believe the Coalition has lost its way under the mighty MT, The Spear is at a loss as to what he is to do on election day.  Vote for the Coalition and in doing so reward bad behaviour and anoint the Chosen One to run the most left-leaning conservative party in living memory.  On the other hand, vote for Labor through wincing eyes and gritted teeth, praying that they inflict enough damage to spur a backlash to true conservatism.  The choice is not a pretty one.

The Spear will give it to Shorten - he is running a decent campaign, has seemingly learnt from the worst of the worst Gillard-Rudd policies (for now), and has even been taught how to smile.  Indeed this election, run on minor differences to taxation, superannuation, negative gearing and your choice of watchdog/royal commision (construction vs banking), would on the face of it appear a choice between Labor and Labor-lite (the deficits are similar enough).  You even have cheap political point scoring seeing both parties cross the divide to take positions at odds with their core values, with the Coalition winding back Super perks and Labor deriding that as unfair.

While hypocrisy is nothing new to politics, there comes a time when paying lip service to your political base isn’t enough.  Too frequently now, politicians on both sides have strayed too far from ‘putting people first’ as Bill Shorten’s campaign slogan promises.  The problem is the general order they put people is typically:

  1. Politicians themselves
  2. Financial backers & mates who are owed (unions, big business)
  3. Those in marginal seats / seats controlled by minor MPs with the balance of power
  4. People who are likely to vote for the political party if allowed (including non-citizens likely to vote my way if the borders are opened)
  5. Finally, ‘the people’ at large who you can take for granted [please insert ‘the planet’ and ‘the animals’ before this last segment if voting Green]

The time has come to send a signal.  The capitalist notion of Creative Destruction is a powerful beast, one which in recent times has not been allowed to run its course, primarily through socialist central bank intervention [and yes, The Spear classifies it as Socialist as it is a centrally planned mode of control to try and engineer a preferable economic and social outcome rather than letting market forces prevail].  Let us see what a little destruction can create.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Commuter Plays Solitaire with Magical Wonder Window


Reports are emerging that local area worker, Bryan Grey, today used his personal hand-held magic wonder window to play Solitaire in a bid for entertainment on the bus ride home.

The commuter, who would rather move electronic cards from one pile to another than explore all of the collective knowledge of human history, was said to experience difficulty in locating the number 2 of spades among the digital 52 card deck.

“I thought I saw it once, but that may have been the 2 of clubs,” Mr Grey responded to journalists’ queries.  “I can’t be certain, but I’m pretty sure.”

The man, with literally no better idea of how to use more personal computing power at the touch of human fingers than any person in existence prior to 2010 except to play an eighteenth century single-player card game, was said to be looking forward to finishing the triviality otherwise known as ‘patience’ in the near future.

“I hope they have the little animation at the end like the original Microsoft 1995 version,” Mr Grey confided to reporters.  “That would be nice.”

At press time, there are reports that Mr Grey has taken to using his personal hand-held magic wonder window as some sort of modern candle to illuminate the keyhole of his door.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Homeground Advantage

Attending a conference for the conservatively minded the other week, the main thematic that The Spear was able to grasp from conversations with his young peers was a tone of despair: whatever the zeitgeist was, it clearly wasn’t moving in their favour.  In their daily lives they felt isolated and intimidated.  Their views felt illegitimised and dismissed by their fellow young adults.

The age-old problem for the conservatively leaning is one of squeaky wheels.  The progressive cause is, by its activist nature, constantly seeking change in one form or another.  Whether it be marriage equality or safe-schools, the basic premise remains the same: we’re not happy with the current situation, and we are going to be vocal about it.

This constant, outspoken pressure for change in all forums, and a passion for the cause they believe in, helps progressive causes capture media attention.  Activist groups hound those who they perceive as public ‘deniers’ of the cause, and create a general atmosphere of fear and intimidation whereby people, even if they happen to disagree with said cause, will keep silent lest their career, business or livelihood be put in jeopardy.  ‘Great’, the progressive cause says.  ‘Serves the bigots right’.

For those under 30, telling your friends and co-workers that you’re a conservative is now in some respects akin to coming out of the closet.  You seriously don’t know how people will react if, for instance, you were perhaps to suggest Tony Abbott wasn’t so bad a bloke.  There is genuine fear that close relationships could fall on hard times or that it could affect your career, so you keep silent.  Better than being called a Nazi within the space of half an hour. Thus progressive causes have the homeground advantage in that they are active, they are in your face and they usually relish in politics, the medium of codifying and legitimising change.

Conservative causes on the other hand... Well they’ve typically got encumbancy, which is a big advantage, but not much else.  Conservative causes are by their nature reactive rather than proactive, in that they are typically proponents for maintaining the status quo.  How passionate can one be when the cause is by and large ‘carry on’?  How can one be motivated to engage with politics, the medium for or opposing change, when one generally seeks to minimise state intervention in their daily life?

To The Spear, political engagement, even for causes he believes in, is more of a necessary evil - a counter effort against those who would enlarge the state to no ends - rather than a pure force for good.  He feels dirty just thinking about handing out leaflets or standing in a rally.  But he would do it, and thinks some day he will be forced to do it, if the threat to individual liberty is great enough.

And that is why people are so amazed when a Tony Abbott or a Donald Trump gets a portion of the vote that is seemingly out of whack with their unpopularity as portrayed by the (progressive) media.  How could anybody support them when the overwhelming majority of the commentariat, all of the righteous intelligentsia, condemn them as vile and stupid?  Are there really that many gullible, uneducated buffoons out there who don’t know what’s best for themselves?  How could people vote for such backwards, bigoted pigs when the progressive cause is so strong and all encompassing?

The answer would be that the progressive media have managed to get ahead of even themselves in what proportion of society truly agrees with their agenda of change.  Count the votes people!  Tony Abbott, a renowned conservative, got voted into the lodge in 2013!  Trump, who some might call the most bigoted, backward candidate of the postwar era, is all but Republican nominee!  While they may not be vocal, the silent types who like keeping to themselves have votes too, and they will use them when they perceive the threat as big enough!

The proletariat may not be very squeaky, but when their wheels start spinning, they can get on a roll all the way to the white house.