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- Economic History and the Austrians: The Relevance of Robert Fogel and the New Economic History June 16, 2013 John P. Cochran
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Tag Archives: economy
From The Salt Lake Tribune:
By Lee Davidson
The Salt Lake Tribune
First published Mar 04 2011 12:14PM
Updated Mar 5, 2011 12:04AM
It may not fold as conveniently as dollar bills, but the Utah House took a first step Friday to recognize gold and silver as legal tender.
It voted 47-26 to pass HB317 by Rep. Brad Galvez, R-West Haven, and sent it to the Senate. The measure would recognize as legal tender gold and silver coins issued by the federal government — not just their face value, but also their value in gold and silver or to a collector.
It also would order the state to study whether Utah should establish an alternative form of legal tender, such as one backed by silver and gold.
“This is a step in preparedness, a step in security,” Galvez said, “that allows us to be able to help hold up our economy as the dollar continues to shrink.”
Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, said, for example, that a 1960s John F. Kennedy half-dollar coin — 90 percent silver — would have bought three gallons of gasoline with its face value in the mid-60s. But the value of the silver in it today would buy about five gallons of gas, while the face value of the coin would buy only a fraction of a gallon.
Ivory said the bill is “a way for us to preserve for the citizens of Utah … the purchasing power of the money they hold.”
The bill would not require anyone to accept gold and silver coins as legal tender. It also would exempt the sale of such U.S. coins from state sales taxes and from capital-gains taxes.
Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, a certified public accountant, opposed the bill, saying it could create tax loopholes. He said people seeking to escape capital-gains taxes on other assets — such as gold bullion — might be able to do so by selling it for coins under the bill.
This is what happens when central planners try to run the economy – they do not have the ability to know the desires and motivations of millions of individuals.
Peruse Chevrolet‘s February sales release, and you’ll notice one number that’s blatantly missing: how many Chevy Volts were sold. The number – a very modest 281 – is available in the company’s detailed data (PDF), but it apparently isn’t something that GM wants to highlight. Keeping the number quiet is understandable, since it’s lower than the 321 that Chevy sold in January.
Nissan doesn’t have anything to brag about here, either (and it avoided any mention of the Leaf sales in its press release). Why? Well, back in January, the company sold 87 Leafs. In February? Just 67. Where does that leave us? Well, here’s the big scorecard for all U.S. sales of these vehicles thus far:
- Volt: 928
- Leaf: 173
Ouch. The big questions, of course, revolve around one word: “Why?” Is ramping up production still a problem? Is demand weak? Are unscrupulous dealers to blame? When will sales start to climb? And what are these numbers doing to plug-in vehicle projects at other automakers? We don’t know all the answers, but for more on February auto sales, click here.
[Sources: General Motors, Nissan]
By Stephen Clark
Published March 03, 2011 | FoxNews.com
It’s been nearly 80 years since the U.S. stopped using gold coins as legal currency, and nearly 40 since the world abandoned the gold standard, but the precious metal could be making a comeback in the United States — beginning in Utah.
The Utah House was to vote as early as Thursday on legislation that would recognize gold and silver coins issued by the federal government as legal currency in the state. The coins would not replace the current paper currency but would be used and accepted voluntarily as an alternative.
The legislation, which has 12 co-sponsors, would let Utahans pay their taxes with gold and also calls for a committee to study alternative currencies for the state. It would also exempt the sale of gold from the state capital gains tax.
The bill cleared a state legislative committee on Wednesday, the first of 13 similar bills in statehouses across the country to do so. If the bill clears the House, it would have to pass the Senate before the governor could sign it into law.
Attorney and Tea Party activist Larry Hilton, author of the original bill, said he doesn’t foresee any roadblocks.
“There’s enough uneasiness going on in the economy to trigger people to feel that, hey, having a little Plan B, kind of a backup system, is not a bad idea,” he told FoxNews.com.
The U.S. used some version of the gold standard from 1873 until 1933, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt outlawed the private ownership of gold amid the Great Depression. An international monetary system based on a gold-exchange standard continued until 1971 when President Richard Nixon stopped the U.S. from redeeming dollars for gold altogether.
Critics of the gold standard say it limits countries’ control over its monetary policy and leaves them vulnerable to financial shocks, such as the Great Depression. But supporters argue that the current financial system’s dependence on the Federal Reserve exposes the value of U.S. money to the threat of inflation.
Rep. Ron Paul, a longtime critic of the Federal Reserve who has called on a return to the gold standard, has praised Hilton’s efforts.
“Efforts such as yours in states around the country highlight the importantance of returning to sound money,” Paul wrote in a letter to Hilton. “Even if such efforts fail to achieve legislative success on their first try, their importance lies in bringing to the public’s attention the problem of the ever-weakening dollar and the necessity of returning to a sound monetary system.”
Hilton said the bill before the House doesn’t go as far as his original draft, which was more sweeping, including recognizing more than just U.S. minted coins and more details on specific tax treatment. But he said he’s willing to take it step-by step.
He also said he’s not pushing to restore the gold standard in the U.S.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke this week dismissed the notion of the gold standard returning to the U.S.
“It did deliver price stability over long periods of time, but over shorter periods of time it caused wide swings in prices related to changes in demand or supply of gold,” he told the Senate Banking Committee. “So I don’t think it’s a panacea.”
Bernanke also said that gold couldn’t return as the world standard because there’s not enough gold in the world to effectively support the U.S. money supply.
Hilton said he’s taking a positive approach to the issue.
“This is not an anti-dollar issue at all,” he said. “We want to strengthen the dollar. We think by introducing gold and silver of our nation’s history, by injecting that into the debate is very healthy for our policymakers.”
Jeff Bell, a policy director for the Washington-based American Principles in Action (APPIA), which helped shape the Utah bill, told FoxNews.com that passage of the bill would send a message to Washington and other states.
“People sense that in the era of quantitative easing and zero interest rates, something has gone haywire with our monetary policy. But people are afraid to say it,” said Bell, who was an adviser to Ronald Reagan’s 1976 and 1980 presidential campaigns. “If one state recognizes gold as a valid currency, I think it would embolden people not just in other states but in Washington.”
Bell credited Tea Party activists for advancing the legislation this far. Rep. Brad Galvez, who introduced the legislation, is a freshman legislator backed by the Tea Party.
“Saying we now recognize gold as money is a big step forward,” he said.
Twelve other states have offered similar proposals: Georgia, Montana, Missouri, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington, Vermont and Oklahoma.
They are both self-destructing as they deal with addiction and excessive partying according to Peter Schiff:
SILVER OUTWEIGHS GOLD
by Peter Schiff
In the world of precious metals, silver spends a lot of time in the shadow of its big brother gold.
Gold, with its high price-to-weight and distinctive yellow tint, has always occupied a special place in the human psyche. To many people across many ages, gold is simply the ultimate form of money – and, as a long-term, stable store of value for one’s personal wealth, I agree it’s hard to beat.
However, rare circumstances are aligning today that I believe will make silver the true champion of this bull run.
WHAT’S DRIVING PRECIOUS METALS?
Gold and silver are both benefitting from a perfect storm in the sector.
Dollar devaluation means that much of the ‘gains’ we see are really just losses by people holding dollars. In other words, if your dollars lose 50% of their value, it’s going to take twice as many of them to buy the same ounce of gold.
But the rally is based on more than simple inflation. Precious metals are regaining their role as the ultimate reserve asset. That means many, many more people are buying and holding these metals than at any time in the last thirty years.
Another factor is the rise of emerging markets and decline of developed markets. As billions of poor Asians, Africans, and South Americans lift themselves out of poverty by embracing the free market, the US is plunging itself into poverty by rejecting it. This means there are a mind-boggling number of new customers for jewelry, savings, and industrial products that require precious metals – and that we are becoming less and less able to outbid them for these resources with our dollars.
SILVER’S DRIVING FASTER
If the world were going to hell in a hand-basket, then I would expect gold to outperform silver. However, it is only the developed economies that are on the rocks – and only the US that faces true catastrophe. Thus, we have seen silver outperform gold for the last eight years.
The market is telling us that while uncertainty reigns supreme, the global economy will prosper in the years ahead. While gold most effectively insures the investor against economic devastation, silver offers both a shield against monetary turmoil and exposure to market growth.
THE KEY: INDUSTRIAL DEMAND
This is because silver is both a precious metal and an industrial metal. Gold is mostly precious, copper is mostly industrial, but silver strikes a fine balance between the two. And it seems as if this moment in history is perfectly suited to this balance. We are facing not only the prospect of the collapse of the international monetary order, but also the largest industrialization process the world has ever seen.
While in a past era, wood, steel, or oil would have been the most critical commodity, today silver is used in everything we hold dear: iPhones, flat-screen TVs, batteries, solar panels, etc. Asia – the new heart of the global economy – is accumulating gold, but they’re consuming silver. That makes both metals good bets, but likely gives silver the edge.
It’s safe to say the future depends on a steady supply of silver. This burgeoning demand is reflected in the latest figures: global demand for silver is about 890 million ounces a year, while global mine production is about 720 million ounces a year. We’re actually consuming scrap to make up the difference. And unlike gold, which tends to remain in a recoverable state as coins or jewelry, a large quantity of silver is ending up in trash dumps – where it is essentially lost forever.
As long as the emerging markets continue to trend toward freer markets, and consumers the world over continue to demand computers, electronics, and green tech, silver should only become more scarce – and thus more valuable. I think these assumptions are pretty safe to make.
CAN THE WORLD THRIVE EX-US?
Of course, if everyone agreed with me, silver would already be worth hundreds of dollars an ounce and there wouldn’t be any profit to be made on the trade. Fortunately, there are a couple of bogeymen in the financial media scaring the majority of investors away from silver so far.
First, some analysts still believe – bless their hearts – that the US is really going to pull through this time into a sustainable recovery. After being duped by dot-coms and then housing, they are all aboard the Treasury Express back to Bubbletown. Unfortunately, as in the previous two cases, the current low interest rate environment is merely masking an underlying economy that is vastly more rotten than it was even a decade ago. The unemployment rate is a key signal that this time, Bernanke’s magic medicine won’t work.
A second cohort sees that the US is doomed, but still thinks we will drag the rest of the world down with us. This is the school that holds that despite our persistent current account deficits and monumental external debt, the world economy “needs” the US consumer to drive growth. As I alluded to in my book, How An Economy Grows And Why It Crashes, this is like a plantation master claiming his slaves need him around to consume the fruits of their labor, or else they wouldn’t have anything to do. Well, the results are in: after an initial panic rush into dollar-based assets, emerging markets are back at full sprint while the US is still limping along.
SILVER IN A DOLLAR COLLAPSE
Just like a Hollywood celebrity, we in the US spent our time at the top of the world – and soon let our status get to our heads. And like a celebrity, our adoring fans the world over will be quick to forget us as we fall from the limelight and deal with our powerful addiction to partying and cheap money. To survive the next decade in America, you are going to want an asset that is in demand globally, but is also free from counterparty risk here at home.
I recently did an interview with a group that is making a film about living in America in the year 2019. The premise is that inflation is rampant, the economy is in shambles, and groups are springing up that do all their trading in silver rounds. While I think their timeline is quite generous, this is a fairly accurate picture of what lies ahead.
Not only does silver appreciate while sitting in your safe due to overseas demand, but it also comes in units that are ideal for use as a common trade unit. Two or three ounces of silver can buy you groceries for a week. By contrast, just try to eat an ounce of gold’s worth of vegetables before they spoil. There are fractional gold coins and bars, but they carry very high markups.
None of us have had to think about these things in our lifetimes, but it is not abnormal in history. Soon, understanding precious metals will be as much a survival skill as knowing how to change a car tire.
THE GOLDEN RATIO
I always say that every investor should have at least 5-10% of his portfolio in physical precious metals. Of that, the proportion allocated to gold vs. silver depends mainly on risk tolerance. Silver tends to be more volatile than gold, so silver investors must have the discipline not to liquidate their stash at the first sign of a correction.
I generally advise a ratio of 2:1 gold-to-silver in the average portfolio. More aggressive investors can push it to 1.5:1 or beyond.
Year-to-date, silver is up 5 percentage points more than gold, and I expect that trend to continue. It’s important to understand that in this fast-changing world, silver is no longer runner-up.