February 13: Daily Contrarian Reads

China Is Getting Desperate—-Even Goes After Bitcoin To Stop Capital Outflows

Things are looking a bit desperate in China. The country has been suffering from money outflows for months  — something that troubles Beijing because it pulls down the value of the Chinese yuan and makes the economy harder to manage….But government measures to stem the outflows — like requiring citizens to report transfers over $10,000 and discouraging overseas acquisitions— still aren’t showing up in the numbers. In January, up to $82.7 billion left the country….The government is looking in every nook and cranny to block any way money can leave the country without its knowledge. That is why on Wednesday the People’s Bank of China had a meeting with the country’s top Bitcoin exchanges, to urge them to keep money in the country. Let that sink in. The Chinese government went after Bitcoin.

Kill Dodd-Frank, Restore Glass-Steagall—Here’s Why

This is precisely why President Trump should follow through with his campaign platform, and offer Glass-Steagall as a replacement for Dodd-Frank. While many would understandably scoff at the idea of replacing regulation with another regulation, a Glass-Steagall rule makes sense given the current state of the American banking industry. As Murray Rothbard wrote: Many free-market advocates wonder: why is it that I am a champion of free markets, privatization, and deregulation everywhere else, but not in the banking system? The answer should now be clear: Banking is not a legitimate industry, providing legitimate service, so long as it continues to be a system of fractional-reserve banking: that is, the fraudulent making of contracts that it is impossible to honor.

Murray Rothbard Had It Right In November 1993—–NAFTA Was More Crony Capitalism Than Free Trade

The “free traders” for Nafta confront their biggest problem when we point out that, under Nafta, super-governmental commissions, unaccountable to any taxpayers, will be able to enforce and “upwardly harmonize” ever greater environmental and labor regulation standards against the wishes of the citizens of each country. The reply of the pro-Nafta people is that these are scare tactics, that these enforcement provisions are really petty and minor – nothing to worry about. ……As for those free marketeers not in the Koch network, how much of the massive Mexican government lobbying in Washington is funneling moolah into these institutions? Let us not forget that part of “free-market” Nafta involves an estimated $20 billion of foreign aid which the conned U.S. taxpayers will be pouring into the coffers of the Mexican government. How much Mexican lobbying, and how many of the possible bribes, are a down payment on this promised boodle?

Be Very Afraid Of The Stock Market—Traders Are In A Trump Trance

The “frustration” Credit Suisse is describing comes from the fact that investors don’t know when the plans they like will actually be enacted, while measures that are actually disconcerting to investors — immigration bans, trade-war mongering, and healthcare uncertainty — have taken center stage. They are also frustrated that details of plans they thought they liked could hurt some industries. Think, for example, what the border-tax element of Trump’s plans — essentially a tax on importers — could do to retailers like Kohl’s, Lululemon, and Urban Outfitters that make their products abroad and sell them at home…..

Foreign Governments Dump US Treasuries as Never Before, But Who the Heck is Buying Them?

It started with a whimper a couple of years ago and has turned into a roar: foreign governments are dumping US Treasuries. The signs are coming from all sides. The data from the US Treasury Department points at it. The People’s Bank of China points at it in its data releases on its foreign exchange reserves. Japan too has started selling Treasuries, as have other governments and central banks. Some, like China and Saudi Arabia, are unloading their foreign exchange reserves to counteract capital flight, prop up their own currencies, or defend a currency peg.

The Warlords Of Kiev—–Baiting Uncle Sucker

The warlords of Kiev are going on the offensive, violating the terms of the Minsk peace accords, and attacking separatist rebels in the eastern part of the country in a desperate bid to provoke open conflict with Russia. What motivates them is fear of President Donald Trump, who has often expressed a desire to “get along with Russia” and who has openly said Ukraine is not a vital US national security interest. What motivates their new aggression is the possibility that the US subsidies that have kept their vicious war on their own people going – 10,000 killed so far – will dry up.

Every Child Left Behind—The Epic Failure Of Betsy DeVos’ School Mandarin Critics

There is so much not right with public education these days that it could be the poster child for institutional collapse in America. Certainly in terms of the money spent per student, it illustrates perfectly Joseph Tainter’s classic collapse dynamic of over-investments in complexity with diminishing returns. Young adults are floundering in high school, or “graduating” as functional illiterates despite the vaunted widespread application of computer “technology.” They can do Instagram on a cell phone, but they can’t read an application for a driver’s license. And the mania for “diversity and multiculture” has left kids without the armature of an American common culture to successfully mold a life onto.

When Trumponomics Meets Abenomics—The Backstory

Regardless, what follows is a brief review – a thirty year retread – that’s intended to put the meeting within its proper context.  This is the backstory you won’t hear anywhere else…To begin, it was precisely the wrong thing to do at precisely the wrong time. But that didn’t stop the best and the brightest from attempting to improve upon the natural order of things. By 1985, fourteen years after Nixon severed the last tattered threads tying the dollar to gold, floating currencies had resulted in grotesque distortions to the global economy.  Clever fellows were called upon to remake the world in their image.

How To Stop The Illegal Drug Death Epidemic—-Bring Back Bayer’s Heroin

In a free market, heroin would come in an unadulterated pharmaceutical grade form of various identified doses. It would have warning labels and instructions. You might have to consult a medical doctor or pharmacist before purchasing heroin, or you might have to go to a clinic. The producers, distributors, and retailers would have some liability for negligence. Before it was made illegal in 1914 one of the most popular heroin products was Bayer’s Heroin.

The Syrian Catastrophe—-How It Was Made In Washington

The story of his rise and fall offers a rare insight into how the CIA operated within the confines of President Obama’s halfhearted Syria policy. It reveals how the rivalries between US bureaucracies — and, even more importantly, the growing divergence between Washington and its NATO ally Turkey — exacerbated Syria’s mayhem. Over the past six years, the Syrian conflict has escalated from street protests against President Bashar al-Assad to a civil war that has transformed the region and the world. Four out of five UN Security Council permanent members have bombed Syrian territory. Regional powerhouses Iran and Saudi Arabia have poured billions of dollars into what has become a proxy war. The jihadi group Isis has exploited the chaos to export violence around the world, and the Syrian refugees who have flooded Europe have energized the rightwing populism surging across the continent and the US.