Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Liberals v. Conservatives v. Pope Francis, II: What He Didn’t Say

It’s hardly news that “conservatives” have a problem with Pope Francis.  As a rule, they tend to think that he has gone “too far.”  It’s also no secret that “liberals” have a problem with Francis.  As a rule, they think he hasn’t gone far enough.  What neither side has considered is the possibility that Francis hasn’t actually gone anywhere at all, at least, not in any substantive way.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Liberals v. Conservatives v. Pope Francis, I: What He Said

Although the Center for Economic and Social Justice is an interfaith organization, and nobody’s income is tied to its existence (it’s all-volunteer), and the Just Third Way is not a faith-based program (although fully consistent with the natural law-basis of the social teachings of the Catholic Church), there is a strong and vested interest in the matters Pope Francis addresses that are not purely religious in nature.

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Power of Calumny

Now that Pope Francis is winging his way back to Rome, and has probably “deplaned” by now, and let us remark that “deplane” is one of the more patently offensive neologisms of the twentieth century; whatever happened to “disembark” . . . “de-ship”? . . . “de-car”? . . . “de-bus”? . . . “de-train”? . . . but we digress . . . anyway, it’s time to take a brief moment and talk about . . . calumny.

Friday, September 25, 2015

News from the Network, Vol. 8, No. 39

The news items for this week are mostly of a report on CESJ’s participation in the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.  The CESJ team, consisting of CESJ president Norman G. Kurland, Marie T. Kurland, and Michael D. Greaney, Director of Research was there from Monday through Thursday.  The team had to miss Friday, September 25, due to a conflict with previously scheduled meetings.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

World Meeting of Families, II: Second Day Report

Yesterday was a bit more lively than the first day.  Judging from the various scheduled book signings and interviews at the various exhibitors’ booths, the first day, Tuesday, was more of a get-your-bearings day than anything else.  Yesterday, Wednesday, business picked up quite a bit, even over on the far side where we are.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

World Meeting of Families, I: First Day Report

Yesterday was our first day at the World Meeting of Families here in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  We had a brief trip up on Monday and set up portions of the combined CESJ/CCC/EEI/CAFFAF booth on Monday afternoon.  We were pleased to see that we are right next to “Priests for Life,” a group with name recognition that we thought might bring a few people over to where we are to see what “Economic Justice for the Family” might be.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Banks and the Stock Market, IX: Bad Credit v. Good Credit

It took us a while, but we’re now coming to the whole point of this series: how misuse of the banking system by both the private sector and the public sector has undermined the basis of a sound market economy and inhibited (in some cases prevented) economic growth.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Banks and the Stock Market, VIII: Eliminating Fractional Reserve Banking

As we saw last week, the real problem with fractional reserve banking is not that it allows commercial banks to create money.  That’s what commercial banks were invented to do.  The problem is that fractional reserve banking forces a bank to make a pre-determined amount of loans, regardless of the actual needs of the market and the economy as a whole.  After the repeal of Glass-Steagall, banks could use “excess reserves” to speculate in the stock market — which, as we’ve been hinting all along in this series, is not a proper function of a bank.

Friday, September 18, 2015

News from the Network, Vol. 8, No. 38

Oh, look!  The world is ending (again).  As of this writing, the Dow is down over 250.  Not to worry, though.  As we’ve pointed out on this blog many, many times, the stock market is meaningless and has little if anything to do with the genuine, productive sector of the economy.  So why keep mentioning it?  Because in contrast (or even without any comparison) binary economics and the Just Third Way represent the only sane alternative.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Banks and the Stock Market, VII: The Flaws of Fractional Reserve Banking

As we hinted yesterday, the real problem with fractional reserve banking is not that it permits commercial or mercantile banks to create money.  That is what such banks — a combination of banks of issue and banks of discount — were invented to do.  No, the problem is more subtle than that.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Banks and the Stock Market, VI: How Fractional Reserve Banking REALLY Works

Yesterday we dismissed the Keynesian money multiplier as hooey.  It simply does not — and cannot — work as described in virtually every textbook on the face of the earth.  There are two very good reasons for this.  We covered these yesterday in some detail, but we can state them very simply — as long as you keep yesterday’s explanation in mind:

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Banks and the Stock Market, V: Shocking Facts About Fractional Reserve Banking

Yesterday we promised to take a look at what we called “the baffling puzzle of fractional reserve banking.”  To be frank, however, it’s not all that great a puzzle.  The problem is that banking itself is so loaded with misconceptions that the mysterious functioning of the different types of banks that we discussed yesterday can assume conspiratorial incomprehensibility.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Banks and the Stock Market, IV: The Types of Banks

As we saw last week, there are many different kinds of money.  There is currency — what most people think of as money — and then there are the things that currency stands for: 1) existing wealth, and 2) future wealth.  As we also saw last week, there can be intermediate steps between currency and what currency ultimately stands for.

Friday, September 11, 2015

News from the Network, Vol. 8, No. 37

As of this writing, the stock market is waiting with bated breath for the latest decision of the Federal Reserve over interest rates.  It doesn’t matter a hill of beans, though.  No significant amount of credit is being channeled to the primary productive market, and none at all to making ordinary people productive through capital ownership.  Instead, it’s all going to bolster stock prices which bear less and less resemblance to reality every day.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Banks and the Stock Market, V: The Forms of Money

Ask most people to show you what money is, and they will pull out a dollar bill, a pound note, a crown, franc, or some other piece of currency — assuming they have some, and they are reasonably certain you’re not going to grab it and run off down the street or try to guilt them into giving it to you just because you’re rich enough to be carrying around such enormous amounts of cash.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Banks and the Stock Market, IV: Money Manipulation and the Economics of Reality

As we saw in yesterday’s blog posting, per Say’s Law of Markets (and basic common sense), we don’t really purchase what others produce with money, but with what we produce by means of our labor or capital.  This is, in fact, one of the reasons why the currency — the measurement of “money” — must be uniform and standard with a fixed value.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Banks and the Stock Market, III: Banking Principle Economics

Banking Principle economics is a little more straightforward than Currency Principle economics.  This may be because there is only one surviving school of Banking Principle economics: binary economics, what its principal developer, lawyer-economist Louis O. Kelso, called “the economics of reality.”

Monday, September 7, 2015

Banks and the Stock Market, II: Currency Principle v. Banking Principle

Here’s a little game for you to play the next time you’re in a situation in which someone is ranting about “the banksters.”  First ask him or her, “Say, what is a bankster, anyway?”  If the ranter manages to answer that one to your satisfaction (instead of dodging the question with some variation of “If you don’t know, I’m certainly not going to tell you”), ask, “And just what the heck is a bank?”  If the first question didn’t stump the ranter, the second definitely will.

Friday, September 4, 2015

News from the Network, Vol. 8, No. 36

A number of interesting developments have happened this week.  Of course, interesting things happen every week, but don’t make for very interesting reading.  The results of networking and politicking are newsworthy, but not the networking and politicking itself. . . .

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Banks and the Stock Market, I: The Stock Market

If you’ve been reading this blog over the past couple of weeks, you might start wondering if the financial system has any relevance to the real world at all — and we couldn’t blame you.  After all, as Adam Smith pointed out in The Wealth of Nations over two hundred years ago, the basic postulate of economics is “Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production.”  Wall Street seems geared toward making money as an end in itself, not as a tool to facilitate production or consumption.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Hedging Your Bets

When we were taking principles of investment finance in college (centuries ago), we learned various ways of valuing shares on the stock market.  Mostly this was because (as we were taught) the easiest way to buy a company is to purchase its shares on the secondary market.  (It’s not.  The 100% S-Corp ESOP is, under current law, the best way, but it doesn’t apply to anyone who doesn’t work in that particular company. . . .)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

How Not to Cause a Great Depression

We probably should have said something about this yesterday, but we were looking at what we think is the single most important factor that caused the Great Depression of 1930-1940: a sudden decline in the value of business loan collateral, and the lack of a replacement collateral when traditional collateral went down the tubes.  Today we’re looking at one of the “causes behind the causes”: lack of internal control in the financial services industry.