Friday, September 30, 2011

News from the Network, Vol. 4, No. 39

Big surprise: as the news from Europe gets worse, the stock market is up . . . no, it's down . . . up . . . down. Rinse, repeat. Actually, we're getting pretty good at guessing which way the market is going to go in the last few minutes of trading each day. If the trend has been downward, there will generally be a spurt upwards as the short sellers in the morning buy back shares in the afternoon. (This seems to have backfired yesterday, when a bunch of them seem to have taken a bath at day's end when the recovery spurt wiped out any of the short sale gains, but it usually works if you have a few million to gamble with.) If the trend has been upward, there will generally be a drop downwards in the last few moments of trading as the profit takers try to lock in their gains.

One word of caution, even after reading this brilliant analysis: Don't try this at home. You're better off engaging in some productive activity, or owning shares that pay dividends based on profitability, not on the perceived need to retain earnings or look good to the gamblers.

What seems to have caused today's downward trend was a double whammy: the unexpectedly large rise in the last part of the day that seems to have hit the short sellers between the eyes, and the announcement by the Economic Cycle Research Institute that a "new" recession is unavoidable. (This is news. We thought we were still in the old recession . . .) Following Harold Moulton's prediction in 1936 that a second dip was coming in the Great Depression, we've been saying this for over a year, ever since the Powers-that-Be announced the "official" end of the recession.

Still, nobody seems to be catching on that the old tried-and-failed Keynesian solutions are no longer not working as well as they used not to work. Anyway, the story's here: "'It's Going to Get a Lot Worse': ECRI's Achuthan Says New Recession Unavoidable." At least it gives us a couple of quotes for the memory book: "Weakness in leading economic indicators has become so pervasive the Economic Cycle Research Institute now predicts a new recession is unavoidable." And "The vicious cycle is starting where lower sales, lower production, lower employment and lower income [leads] back to lower sales." The only real question is why they think this is "news."

Here's the real news:

• Joe Recinos, visiting home from Central America, a member of the Advisory Board of Solidarista in Guatemala, managed to get to both presidential candidates and present them with materials on the Just Third Way. The runoff election is coming in November, at which time we'll be able to see how seriously the candidates took the possibilities for economic recovery inherent in the Just Third Way.

• Joe also has reconnected with the family of Alberto Martén Chavarría, the renowned founder of Solidarism in Costa Rica. Señor Martén corresponded at length with Louis Kelso in the 1940s, and worked with Joe and Norman Kurland in the 1970s. One of Señor Martén's biggest disappointments (if that's not putting it too strong) was the lack of emphasis that the solidarista movement put on the importance of worker ownership, and the need to extend the "ownership revolution" to as many people as possible.

• Joe also told us that the family of Señor Martén is founding a library with the goal of preserving and promoting his work. Joe will be exploring the possibility of having CESJ's "Economic Justice Media" participate in this endeavor, and possibly arrange for the translation into English of some of Señor Martén's more important books.

• CESJ's Director of Research, Michael D. Greaney, was interviewed this past Wednesday on the Skip Mahaffey Show out of Tampa Bay, Florida. The informal conversation, which covered the growing problem of personal debt and the need for systemic change for a lasting solution, went very well, and Skip has expressed interest in having Mike back for another talk. Guy Stevenson found a link to an archived record of the show. The interview begins at "11:30" if you want to jump right to it instead of listening to the whole show.

• Michael Greaney was also quoted in the Wall Street Journal Digital Network MarketWatch in an article about bullion coins as an investment. The article is here. Be careful — this is copyrighted material, so do not do anything more than send the link around. We mean that.

• There was a meeting of the Coalition for Capital Homesteading today. A number of people from across the country participated, and plans were firmed up for an Economic Justice Summit to discuss applications of the Just Third Way, i.e., Capital Homesteading. The location might be in Hartford, CT, the insurance capital of the world, where these ideas should resonate particularly well.

• On Monday of this week we dutifully sent in our suggestion on how to get the economy running again and sustainable job creation to William Conway, one of the founders of the Carlyle Group. Most of the suggestions we saw reported in the Washington Post centered on simply giving away more money or creating jobs without really saying how they were to be sustained. At the top of our list was a meeting with Norman Kurland, followed by a list of Conway's contacts. Since neither of these cost any money, we don't know how seriously they have been received.

• The "Thornton Frenzy" we've been experiencing on this blog over the last two weeks seems to have achieved a life of its own. We've uncovered a number of "long lost" works by this neglected 19th century economist, even two that aren't listed in any of the admittedly meager bibliographies. It's not hard to see why Thornton has been ignored. He was for worker ownership at a time when all the economic elite knew for an absolute fact that you simply can't have universal capital ownership. You just can't, and that's that. Thornton believed that the conflict between "labor" and "capital" would not be resolved until workers became owners, a claim presaged by Charles Morrison fifteen years before Thornton wrote his book On Labor (1869), and echoed by Pope Leo XIII in 1891 in Rerum Novarum: "We have seen that this great labor question cannot be solved save by assuming as a principle that private ownership must be held sacred and inviolable. The law, therefore, should favor ownership, and its policy should be to induce as many as possible of the people to become owners." (§ 46.) Take that, Keynes. You and your "The immense accumulations of fixed capital which, to the great benefit of mankind, were built up during the half century before the war, could never have come about in a Society where wealth was divided equitably. (The Economic Consequences of the Peace, Chapter 2, Section III.) Bologna.

• One of the books by Thornton we discovered that nobody mentions is Life's Mystery, a long poem published in Philadelphia in 1875 or so. It turns out there's a good reason why nobody mentions it. It really was going from bad to verse. (You know we couldn't resist that line.) We'll forgive him, though, for the good, non-poetry work he did.

• The two novels by Blessed John Henry Newman have been sent to the printer by Universal Values Media, Inc., which is in a co-publishing arrangement with CESJ.

• We have made two more submissions to Mesa Verde Publishing's upcoming Encyclopedia of Politics in the American West. One was on the "Boone and Crockett Club, an institution founded by Theodore "Don't Call Me Teddy" Roosevelt in 1887 to promote conservation. They really should be better known than they are; pay their website a visit. Interestingly, CESJ's chief volunteer, Miss Jean, worked for the B and C Club for a while before they moved to Montana. The other article is on banking, a subject on which we are probably, thanks to the work of Louis Kelso and Harold Moulton, uniquely qualified to write. (N.B., unlike William Thornton's article on "Agriculture" in the 1875 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, our contributions will not be in excess of 166,000 words.)

• We continue to reach out to candidates for public office. So far, despite the fact that "The Great Recession" appears to be starting a new phase, there seems to be very little interest in doing anything that will benefit ordinary people, other than more talk about redistribution and phony job creation instead of lifting barriers to capital ownership so that everyone can participate in the production of wealth.

• Even more strange is the fact that more Pro-Choice people are starting to pick up on the potential of Capital Homesteading as a the Pro-Life economic agenda, but hold back because they depend on the State to support their position, while Pro-Life people hold back because they seem to think it "concedes" too much to "the opposition" to admit that abortion exists, but here's a way to minimize it by removing all economic justification.

• Norman Kurland is meeting with two Chinese journalists next week to discuss the possibilities of implementing the Just Third Way in the East, which is west of here, in addition to the West . . . which is east of here.

• As of this morning, we have had visitors from 53 different countries and 52 states and provinces in the United States and Canada to this blog over the past two months. Most visitors are from the United States, Canada, the UK, India, and Poland. People in Poland, the United States, the United Kingdom, Nigeria and the Netherlands Antilles spent the most average time on the blog. The most popular postings this past week were "The National Infrastructure Bank Proposal," "News from the Network, Vol. 4, No. 36," "A Plea for Peasant Proprietors, Part I," "Thomas Hobbes on Private Property," and Aristotle on Private Property."

Those are the happenings for this week, at least that we know about. If you have an accomplishment that you think should be listed, send us a note about it at mgreaney [at] cesj [dot] org, and we'll see that it gets into the next "issue." If you have a short (250-400 word) comment on a specific posting, please enter your comments in the blog — do not send them to us to post for you. All comments are moderated anyway, so we'll see it before it goes up.

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