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The shabby economy

Yesterday, I attended a panel discussion on the “Sharing Economy” at the Battle of Ideas. Benita Matovska, who describes herself as “chief sharer” of the comparison website Compare & Share, enthused about how the Sharing Economy would build communities, transform capitalism and restore the planet. “It’s all about trust,” she said. No it isn’t. It’s all about money. Here’s what Matovska herself says on the Compare & Share website. I was trying to book a family holiday in Morocco – when we travel as a family we’re quite adventurous, we like to share, meet real people and have those amazing […]

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Russia’s VTB Bank Joins As SGE Member. Chinese Direct Gold Imports Increase

BullionStar Another strong week for gold demand at the Shanghai Gold Exchange – China’s main physical gold bourse. From 19 until 23 October 57 tonnes have been withdrawn from the vaults of the Shanghai Gold Exchange (SGE), according to data released on Friday by the SGE. Year to date 2,119 tonnes have been withdrawn. With a little over two months left in 2015 SGE withdrawals, which capture the amount of Chinese wholesale gold demand, are set to reach more than 2,500 tonnes in 2015, breaking the record of 2013 at 2,197 tonnes. SGE withdrawals have made a spectacular run up this […]

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Generosity

In Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol“, the miser par excellence, Ebenezer Scrooge, is frightened by the Christmas ghosts into uncharacteristic acts of generosity. But I have always wondered how long his change of heart lasted. After all, Christmas lasts less than 2 weeks….then the decorations come down, the lights go out and we all start our post-Christmas diets. The abundance of Christmas is followed by the scarcity of Lent. I fear that Scrooge’s habitual miserliness would have made a swift return once the visions faded and the grim reality of a diminishing hoard started to bite. As Fagin says, “In this world one thing […]

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What Politicians Don’t Understand About the Economy

I was reading the Wall Street Journal last week and came across an article called “The Myth of Basic Science.” It made the point my research long ago proved to me: that the evolution of technology moves on its own. Politicians think they can turn it on and off like a tap – just start a new space program! They also think they can stimulate the economy to grow forever without having recessions any more – and other ridiculous assumptions that show how little they understand the dynamics of free market capitalism. Our economy is not an inorganic machine. It’s […]

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‘Mentally Unstable’ Obama Looking To Start A War With China?

This week, Barack Obama sent a guided missile destroyer into disputed waters in the South China Sea to see if the Chinese would start shooting at it. Yes, this is what he actually did. Fortunately for us, the Chinese backed down and did not follow through on their threats to take military action. Instead, the Chinese have chosen to respond with very angry words. The Chinese ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai, says that what Obama did was “a very serious provocation, politically and militarily.” And as you will see below, a state-run newspaper stated that China “is not […]

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All Your Cars Are Belong Us

Did you know that most cars do nothing for 23 hours a day? Yes, they are totally idle. Sleeping safely in their owner’s garage, or on his drive, or at her place of work, or in the station car park. Shocking, isn’t it? What a terrible waste of assets. We should ensure that all these cars are DRIVEN. All the time. But there is a reason why all these cars are idle. Their owners are busy doing something else. Many people who drive to work, or to the station, do jobs that they love, that they have the skills to […]

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The U.S. Government Is Spending 400,000 Dollars On A Single Helmet

Would you pay $ 400,000 for a single helmet?  Of course you wouldn’t – but that is precisely what the U.S. government is doing.  Just the helmet for the pilot of the new F-35 Lightning II is going to cost taxpayers nearly half a million dollars.  And since we are going to need 2,400 of those helmets, the total bill is going to end up approaching a billion dollars.  But what is a billion dollars between friends, eh? Sadly, our military has a very long history of wasting money like this.  Back in the 1980s, the “six hundred dollar toilet […]

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No apology, just an explanation

My Forbes post on the threat to democracy in the EU touched a nerve. Well, several nerves, actually. Some people regarded my invocation of the Prague Spring as insulting to the people who suffered under Soviet oppression: others objected to my comparison of the benevolent EU with the evil USSR: and a few complained that I had presented the Syriza government as “martyrs”, when they are nothing of the kind. And lots of Portuguese called me out for misrepresenting how their parliamentary democracy works. First, let me deal with the Portuguese. I’m not going to discuss the Portuguese semi-presidential political […]

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Note to Alphabet, Google, Whatever: Pay a Dividend, You Baby

Note to Alphabet… or Google… or whatever you choose to call yourself these days: it’s time to grow up, wear your big-boy pants, and start paying a dividend. You’re a $ 500 billion company, for crying out loud, and your biggest rivals — Apple and Microsoft — are among the most generous dividend payers and dividend raisers in the world. For a company that used to pride itself on its “don’t be evil” motto, your stinginess to your long-suffering shareholders seems a little… well… evil. Is a dividend really too much to ask? You have consistent and reliable cash flows. And over […]

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The Calm Before The Storm

Have you noticed that things have gotten eerily quiet in the month of October?  After the chaos of late August and early September, many had anticipated that we would be dealing with a full-blown financial collapse by now, but instead we have entered a period of “dead calm” in which things have become exceedingly quiet in almost every way that you can possibly imagine.  Other “watchmen” that I highly respect have made the exact same observation.  Even though the economic numbers are screaming that we have entered a global recession, they aren’t really make any headline news.  A whole host […]

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