Archive for the ‘Commerce’ Category

Quote notes (#38)

Peter Schiff (@ ZH):

Unlike her predecessors, Janet Yellen has never had a youthful dalliance with hawkish monetary ideas. Before taking charge of the Fed both Alan Greenspan, and to a lesser extent Ben Bernanke, had advocated for the benefits of a strong currency and low inflation and had warned of the dangers of overly accommodative policy and unnecessary stimulus. (Both largely abandoned these ideals once they took the reins of power, but their urge to stimulate may have been restrained by a vestigial bias against the excesses of Keynesianism). Janet Yellen, who has been on the liberal/dovish end of the monetary spectrum for her entire professional career, has no such baggage. As a result, we can expect her to never waver in her belief that stimulus is the answer to every economic question.

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October 10, 2013admin 25 Comments »
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Sundown

David Stockman rests his analysis of recent economic history upon one basic presupposition, whose modesty is expressed by an intrinsic inclination to a negative form: Radical dishonesty cannot provide a foundation for enduring financial value. This assumption suffices to expose the otherwise scarcely comprehensible rottenness of American public affairs, to organize an integral understanding of the gathering calamity, and to marginalize his work as the over-excited howl of a lonely crank.

In any society where minimal standards of civil decency were still even tenuously remembered, his ideas would be simple common sense. In the bedlamite orgy we in fact inhabit, Stockman’s thoughts appear wildly counter-intuitive, rigidly structured by uninterpretable imperatives, and suffused by an improbable aura of doom. In fact Stockman is quite clear — implicitly — that under American political conditions sanity was strictly unobtainable. The coming calamity fulfills a (bi-partisan) democratic destiny — but that is to anticipate.

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October 6, 2013admin 10 Comments »
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Crypto-Capitalism

Political language is systematically confusing, in a distinctive way. Its significant terms are only secondarily theoretical, as demonstrated by radical shifts in sense that express informal policies of meaning. Descriptions of political position are moves in a game, before they are neutral accounts of the rules, or even of the factions.

It would be excessively digressive to embark on yet another expedition into the history of such political terms as ‘liberal’, ‘progress’, ‘fascism’, or ‘conservative’. Everyone knows that these words are profoundly uninformative without extensive historical qualification, or rough-and-ready adaptation to the dictates of guided fashion. If consistent theoretical use of any political label conflicts with its maximally effective political use, the former will be sacrificed without hesitation — and always has been. That is why neologisms are typically required for even the most fleeting approximation to theoretical precision, whenever political affiliation is at stake.

A point in favor of the ‘crypto-‘ prefix is that it plays directly into such confusion. As a politically-significant marker, it bears two strongly differentiated, yet intersecting senses. It indicates (a) that a political phenomenon has been re-assembled in disguise, and (b) that cryptographic techniques are essential to its identity. Hence, respectively, ‘crypto-communism’ and ‘crypto-currencies’. Any attempt to engage in an initial clarification cuts across the intrinsically occulted character of both.

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October 4, 2013admin 13 Comments »
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Quote notes (#36)

When Don Boudreaux makes sense, he makes a lot of sense:

By what logic are humans correctly understood to be unable successfully to centrally plan and arrange the monopoly provision of steel, ink, ball bearings, automobiles, breakfast cereals, cauliflower, catering for weddings, and other goods and services but are able successfully to centrally plan and arrange the monopoly provision of the good “money”?

September 30, 2013admin 5 Comments »
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Abstract Horror (Part 2)

Among literary genres, horror cannot claim an exclusive right to make contact with reality. Superficially, its case for doing so at all might seem peculiarly weak, since it rarely appeals to generally accepted criteria of ‘realism’. Insofar as reality and normality are in any way confused, horror immediately finds itself exiled to those spaces of psychological and social aberrance, where extravagant delusion finds its precarious refuge.

Yet, precisely through its freedom from plausible representation, horror hoards to itself a potential for the realization of encounters, of a kind that are exceptional to literature, and rare even as a hypothetical topic within philosophy. The intrinsic abstraction of the horrific entity carves out the path to a meeting, native to the intelligible realm, and thus unscreened by the interiority or subjectivity of fiction. What horror explores is the sort of thing that, due to its plasticity and beyondness, could make its way into your thoughts more capably that you do yourself. Whatever the secure mental ‘home’ you imagine yourself to possess, it is an indefensible playground for the things that horror invokes, or responds to.

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September 20, 2013admin 5 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Commerce , Horror
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Laffer Drift

One dark and fearsome crag, half-lost among the Himalayan mountain range of uncleared obligations stretched out before this blog, is a promise to devote a post (or several) to Mencius Moldbug’s Neocameral regime model. The opportunity to make a small payment against this debt having arisen, I am eagerly seizing it.

A relatively marginal but consistent feature in Moldbug’s model is the tendency of Neocameral tax rates to approximate to the Laffer maximum. Since Moldbug aims to rationalize the theory of government, under the presumption of its ineliminably self-interested nature, this suggestion scarcely requires an argument (and in fact does not receive one). Government will always tend to maximize its resources, and Arthur Laffer’s graph of optimum revenue-raising tax rates seems to show the way this is done. A Neocameral regime tends the economy of a country exactly as a farmer tends a herd of animals — without ever forgetting that ultimate redemption occurs in the abattoir.

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August 6, 2013admin 31 Comments »
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A BTC Bet

from Jim:

I think Moldbug has excessive belief in the power of the state. He thinks governments are always omnipotent, I think they are bluff and theater floating over a storm tossed sea of anarchy. A part of town where order comes from the police is an unsafe part of town. And if one is in that part of town, and feeling nervous, as one should, one ducks into a mall or a McDonalds for safety. That nervous people are inclined to head for the mall, not the police station, leads me to believe that attempts to demonetize bitcoins are likely to fail.

April 14, 2013admin 22 Comments »
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The Future of Bitcoin

The latest guidance from US Leviathan’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is a leaf ripped straight out of Moldbuggian prophecy. The target acquisition revealed in Administrators and Exchangers of Virtual Currency, section c. De-Centralized Virtual Currencies could not possibly be clearer:

A final type of convertible virtual currency activity involves a de-centralized convertible virtual currency (1) that has no central repository and no single administrator, and (2) that persons may obtain by their own computing or manufacturing effort.

A person that creates units of this convertible virtual currency and uses it to purchase real or virtual goods and services is a user of the convertible virtual currency and not subject to regulation as a money transmitter. By contrast, a person that creates units of convertible virtual currency and sells those units to another person for real currency or its equivalent is engaged in transmission to another location and is a money transmitter. In addition, a person is an exchanger and a money transmitter if the person accepts such de-centralized convertible virtual currency from one person and transmits it to another person as part of the acceptance and transfer of currency, funds, or other value that substitutes for currency.

[See Fotrkd’s link feast in this comment thread]

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March 20, 2013admin 26 Comments »
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Bitcoin Horror Stories

Bitcoin Dies, Moldbug ventures, perhaps sometime this year. Following a broad DOJ indictment for money laundering, targeting any and everybody remotely connected with the free currency, the “BTC/USD price falls to 0 and remains there.”

“[R]emains there” — how cute is that? Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Bitcoin R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.

Bitcoin simulates gold, and once ‘mined’ it lasts for ever. If it “falls to 0” it has to remain there, for eternity, because it can never be finished. It can die, but never be destroyed. It’s built for undeath.

‘Moldbug Monetary Theory’ attributes the value of money exclusively to speculation. If the speculators are terrorized sufficiently, BTC drops onto the flatline, and “remains there.” The market would be totally extinguished. What Mao failed to achieve, let alone sustain, USG would somehow accomplish, perhaps by exhibiting greater revolutionary ardor and ruthlessness.

Ruthlessness would certainly be necessary, for the obvious reason that flatline-BTC has zero downside risk. It’s a one-way bet that someone, somewhere, will re-animate it (“nothing is unstable” (thanks to fotrkd for the reminder)). If a genius was designing irresistible speculator-bait, zero-degree bitcoin would be hard to improve upon. It’s free, and it’s only worth nothing if the cops can secure the crypt flawlessly, and forever. Did anyone say ‘free money’?

Speculation messes with time, by bringing the future forward. If undead BTC were ever to be re-awakened, it already has been. Its economic potential flows back down the timeline, modified by a time-preference discount. The feedback becomes strange, and difficult to confidently calculate, but it works as a vitalizing charge, and the corpse unmistakably twitches. Whatever money at t0 is worth, if it’s anything at all, at t0-n it almost certainly can’t be zero.

The Necronomicon describes flatline-BTC with creepy exactitude:

That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die.

ADDED: An alternative take on Bitcoin and undeath from Yifo Guo, interviewed here (H/T Nick B. Steves, in this comment thread): “… the point is, the idea will never die. Even if bitcoin dies, an alternative will arise, one that addresses the vulnerability that was previously exploited. Then you get bitcoin 2.0.”

March 5, 2013admin 43 Comments »
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Bitcoin vs Leviathan

Moldbug’s prediction: Freedom loses (as usual).

The question is this: Which dominates? The malignancy of Leviathan, or its incompetence? How radically can the metastatic cancer-phase State shape reality in conformity to its vision?

Bitcoin — which is essentially an experiment in Austrian monetary theory — provides the model test-bed in which this question can be lucidly decided. Its current rising fortunes only accelerates the decision. If Bitcoin can’t be stopped, Leviathan is exposed as a paper tiger.

The best way to make the bet, of course, is to buy (or short) BTC. Outside in has been too apathetic to put resources behind its hunches yet, but (for the zilch it’s worth) our intuitions run contra Moldbug on the topic. Compared to Cyberspace, where bitcoin is entrenched, the State is weak, unintelligent, uninformed, parochial, poorly designed, and — in each respect — getting ever more so, in both comparative and absolute terms. The truly stupendous idiocy of Leviathan thoroughly swamps its evil, as is demonstrated every time it tries to get something done.

The digital Outside, in contrast, is already far beyond recall. The germ of a free economy is under construction.

[UF on Bitcoin (June 2011) here]

March 1, 2013admin 108 Comments »
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