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February 19, 2017 | Tax Reform: The Good, the Bad, and the Really Ugly—Part Three

“We have a system that increasingly taxes work and subsidizes nonwork.” – Milton Friedman “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi “Real change requires real change.” – Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich Today we come to part 3 of my tax reform series. So far, […]

February 13, 2017 | Tax Reform: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Part Two

“Taxation is the price we pay for failing to build a civilized society.” – Mark Skousen “Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.” – Ronald Reagan Taxation is almost never […]

February 7, 2017 | Tax Reform: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly — Part One

Vizzini: He didn’t fall?! Inconceivable! Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. – From The Princess Bride “A tariff is a scale of taxes on imports, designed to protect the domestic producer against the greed of his consumer.” – Ambrose Bierce “Vast possibilities matured into realities […]

January 30, 2017 | Post-Real Economics

“Too large a proportion of recent ‘mathematical’ economics are mere concoctions, as imprecise as the initial assumptions they rest on, which allow the author to lose sight of the complexities and interdependencies of the real world in a maze of pretentious and unhelpful symbols.” – John Maynard Keynes “Simplicity does not precede complexity, but follows […]

January 22, 2017 | What I Learned in Washington DC

I have been in Washington DC for the last three days. The ostensible reason was to participate in a board meeting of a public company, Ashford Inc. (AINC). We manage hotel REITs that own three hotels here in DC, and the group decided to move our board meeting up a few weeks and hold it […]

January 15, 2017 | Forecasting with Friends

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” – Peter Drucker “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future. Concentrate the mind on the present moment.” – Buddha Forecasting the New Year is a curious tradition. Much evidence suggests that no one does it both accurately and consistently, […]

January 9, 2017 | 2017 Forecast: Skeptically Optimistic

“Quantity is being confused with abundance and wealth with happiness.” – Tom Waits “The shift from sailing ships to telegraph was far more radical than that from telephone to email.” – Noam Chomsky One might think that all our newfangled technology would make forecasting the future a little easier. I read just last week that […]

January 2, 2017 | What Could Go Wrong?

“Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.” – Oscar Wilde “Mistakes are the usual bridge between inexperience and wisdom.” – Phyllis Theroux “Economists are often asked to predict what the economy is going to do. But economic predictions require predicting what politicians are going to do – and nothing is more unpredictable.” – […]

December 19, 2016 | As the Fed Turns

“Monetary policy has less room to maneuver when interest rates are close to zero.” – Ben Bernanke “Many Americans rely on interest income from their savings to help cover their cost of living.” – John Delaney When I was growing up – and until I was well into my 60s, in fact – one of […]

December 13, 2016 | The Trump Rally Will Morph

“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” – Warren Buffett “There is no safe store of value.” – Alan Greenspan “In the short-run, the market is a voting machine – reflecting a voter-registration test that requires only money, not intelligence or emotional stability – but in the long-run, the market is a weighing machine.” […]

December 4, 2016 | A Big Swirling Italian Mess

“Move to Italy. They know about living in debt: They don’t care.” – John Lydon “Italians were eating with a knife and fork when the French were still eating each other.” – Mario Batali Italians are headed to the polls this Sunday (and thus this letter is reaching you a little earlier than usual) – […]

November 21, 2016 | What Should Trump Do?

“The problems of victory are more agreeable than those of defeat, but they are no less difficult.” – Winston Churchill “Crying is all right in its way while it lasts. But you have to stop sooner or later, and then you still have to decide what to do.” –  C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair “I must […]

November 7, 2016 | The Election: Making Difficult Choices

I have a letter halfway done on economic/investment themes, but I’m putting it aside. For over 16 years I have written each week about what has interested me and what I have thought important. And frankly, what is really on my mind is the same thing that is likely on your mind, and that is […]

October 30, 2016 | Earnings ex-Losers Look Great

“Formula for success: rise early, work hard, strike oil.” – J. Paul Getty “Any jerk can have short-term earnings.” – Jack Welch Profits are the mother’s milk of economic, stock market, and portfolio growth. Employment and tax revenues are driven by profits, too. Nothing good happens unless there are profits and lots of them. So […]

October 24, 2016 | How to Rebuild Healthcare Right

“I reject the insurance model. I think we should have a free-market approach to healthcare.” – Gary Johnson “The goal of real healthcare reform must be universal coverage in a cost-effective way.” – Bernie Sanders “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves….” – Julius Caesar (I.ii.140–141) “The numbers [referring to the […]

October 18, 2016 | Taking a Wrench to Healthcare

“The US has the most dysfunctional healthcare system in the world.” – Elizabeth Holmes “Healthcare is the cornerstone of the socialist state.” – Monica Crowley “You’ve got this crazy system where all of a sudden, 25 million more people have health care and then the people that are out there busting it – sometimes 60 […]

October 10, 2016 | Federal Repression System

“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” – Winston Churchill And from “To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough”: Scottish version: But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane, In proving foresight may be vain: The best-laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men Gang aft agley, An’ lea’e us […]

October 3, 2016 | Start Moving Some Dirt

“Economic stimulants produce Bridges to Nowhere. Strategic investment in infrastructure produces a foundation for long-term growth.” – Roger McNamee “Our American ancestors prioritized growth and investment in our nation’s infrastructure.” – Cory Booker “There are two Americas – separate, unequal, and no longer even acknowledging each other except on the barest cultural terms.” – David […]

September 15, 2016 | Negative Rates Nail Savers

“You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.” – William Jennings Bryan, July 9, 1896 “You shall not crucify the retiree and saver on a cross of negative rates.” – John Mauldin, September 14, 2016 The Economy Is Rigged As is now the practice on many college campuses, I should preface this week’s […]

September 5, 2016 | Monetary Mountain Madness

“Practical men who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back.” – John Maynard Keynes Scientific research says that leaving your normal environment […]

August 29, 2016 | Six Ways NIRP Is Economically Negative

“Positive anything is better than negative nothing.” – Elbert Hubbard “Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.” – Willie Nelson If you have any doubt that we’ve wandered into a new and unexplored economic universe, consider this number: $12.6 trillion. That’s the face value of government and corporate bonds […]

August 22, 2016 | Weapons of Economic Misdirection

  “Measurement theory shows that strong assumptions are required for certain statistics to provide meaningful information about reality. Measurement theory encourages people to think about the meaning of their data. It encourages critical assessment of the assumptions behind the analysis. “In ‘pure’ science, we can form a better, more coherent, and objective picture of the […]

August 14, 2016 | An Inheritance of Incompetence

“Always remember that the future comes one day at a time.” – Dean Acheson “Practical men who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.” – John Maynard Keynes I don’t often agree with Keynes, but he is the most quotable of all major economists. […]

August 7, 2016 | World Gone Backwards

  “The growth model China has relied on for the last 30 years – one predicated on low-cost exports to the rest of the world and investment in resource-intensive heavy manufacturing – is unlikely to serve it well in the next 30 years.” – Gary Locke “In this 21st century world, some of our country’s […]

July 31, 2016 | The Trouble with Trade

  “When goods don’t cross borders, armies will.” – Frequently attributed to Frédéric Bastiat “Free trade agreements are trade agreements that don’t stick to trade.” – Ralph Nader “The future has arrived. It’s just not evenly distributed yet.” – William Gibson, circa 1993 in an interview (original version of the quote) The political speech-fests are […]

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