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Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Read this all the way through, including the update at the end:
. . . back in September, the Federal Reserve allowed Goldman (and a few other surviving institutions) to convert from an investment bank into a bank holding company. The Wall St. Journal claimed at the time that the move meant the firm would "come under the close supervision of national bank regulators, subjecting them to new capital requirements, additional oversight, and far less profitability than they have historically enjoyed." A mere nine months later, Goldman boasts of "blowout profits." So much for "less profitability." As for allegedly greater regulations and capital restrictions, they freely admitted from the start: "'We don't believe we'll have to get out of any businesses,' says Lucas van Praag, a Goldman spokesman. Adds Morgan Stanley's Mark Lake, 'There will not be much in terms of divestitures'."A gold standard, anyone?
But what the conversion did allow was access to lending from the Federal Reserve. Since then, the Fed has increased its balance sheet by $2 trillion while steadfastly refusing to disclose the beneficiaries of that credit. Thus, even aside from the bailout money it directly received and the billions in bailout money which it indirectly received (through AIG), Goldman has had access to massive amounts of Fed lending in order to fuel its bulging profits. That unimaginably enormous (though entirely secret) lending is, in part, what is behind the Ron Paul-sponsored bill to audit the Fed -- a bill that is now co-sponsored by a majority of House members from across the political spectrum (progressive, conservative and everything in between), yet which continues to be blocked by Congressional leaders from receiving a floor vote.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
On January 29, 1974 the United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit. - 524 F.2d 629, filed this opinion in Mobley M. Milam, Appellant, v. United States of America et al. (Milam v. US (1974)):
Appellant has filed a substantial brief and an adequate reply brief and has argued his full share of allotted time in support for a demand that his $50.00 Federal Reserve Bank Note be redeemed in "lawful money" of the United States, which he says, in effect, must be gold or silver. Appellant refused appellees' tender of an equivalent value in Federal Reserve Notes.
Appellant's contentions, in our view, were put at rest close to a century ago in Juilliard v. Greenman, 110 U.S. 421, 448, 4 S.Ct. 122, 130, 28 L.Ed. 204 (1884), in which it was said:
" . . . Under the power to borrow money on the credit of the United States, and to issue circulating notes for the money borrowed, its power to define the quality and force of those notes as currency is as broad as the like power over a metallic currency under the power to coin money and to regulate the value thereof. Under the two powers, taken together, Congress is authorized to establish a national currency, either in coin or in paper, and to make that currency lawful money for all purposes, as regards the national government or private individuals. . . . " (Emphasis supplied.)
The power so precisely described in Juilliard has been delegated to the Federal Reserve System under the provisions of 12 U.S.C. § 411. Appellant's challenge to the validity of this legislation is meritless. Cf.31 U.S.C. § 392.
While we agree that golden eagles, double eagles and silver dollars were lovely to look at and delightful to hold, we must at the same time recognize that time marches on, and that even the time honored silver dollar is no longer available in its last bastion of defense, the brilliant casinos of the houses of chance in the state of Nevada. Appellant is entitled to redeem his note, but not in precious metal. Simply stated, we find his contentions frivolous.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Economist Judy Shelton writes in the WSJ (February 11, 2009):
Inflation is the enemy of capitalism, chiseling away at the foundation of free markets and the laws of supply and demand. It distorts price signals, making retailers look like profiteers and deceiving workers into thinking their wages have gone up. It pushes families into higher income tax brackets without increasing their real consumption opportunities.She continues:
In short, inflation undermines capitalism by destroying the rationale for dedicating a portion of today's earnings to savings. Accumulated savings provide the capital that finances projects that generate higher future returns; it's how an economy grows, how a society reaches higher levels of prosperity. But inflation makes suckers out of savers.
Given that the driving force of free-market capitalism is competition, it stands to reason that the best way to improve money is through currency competition. Individuals should be able to choose whether they wish to carry out their personal economic transactions using the paper currency offered by the government, or to conduct their affairs using voluntary private contracts linked to payment in gold or silver.Amen.
Legal tender laws currently favor government-issued money, putting private contracts in gold or silver at a distinct disadvantage. Contracts denominated in Federal Reserve notes are enforced by the courts, whereas contracts denominated in gold are not. Gold purchases are subject to taxes, both sales and capital gains. And while the Constitution specifies that only commodity standards are lawful -- "No state shall coin money, emit bills of credit, or make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts" (Art. I, Sec. 10) -- it is fiat money that enjoys legal tender status and its protections.
Now is the time to challenge the exclusive monopoly of Federal Reserve notes as currency.
Bill Bonner sees little difference between Madoff's "extraordinary" fraud and the activities of government:
But, what is the point of keeping Madoff in prison? He represents no threat. Rather than pay $30,000 per year to keep him locked up, we suggest that he be forced to do community service work. He should be pressed into service as the next head of the Federal Reserve after Ben Bernanke’s term expires in December. With Madoff in the big office, there would be no longer any illusions about what sort of bank the Fed is running.This would qualify as satire if it were a little further from the truth.
Mike Larson at Money and Markets writes:
The Fed is now clearly a politicized institution, working hand-in-glove with the Treasury and the rest of the administration.Thanks to Rob Moody at Strike-the-Root for this reference.
In short, the Fed is NOT an independent body willing and able to see around the economic corner and take decisive, proactive steps to head off disaster. Instead, it’s an institution that has failed repeatedly to uphold its responsibilities in the regulatory and monetary policy arenas. And thankfully, policymakers are coming around to that view . . .
You probably don’t need me to tell you the whole long, sorry history of the Fed’s easy money policies — and their repercussions. Suffice it to say that under former Chairman Alan Greenspan, and later Ben Bernanke, the Fed’s policy has been to ignore asset bubbles as they inflate … then come in with monetary guns blazing when they burst, thereby laying the foundation for the next bubble.
In 1998, the Fed went totally overboard after the collapse of Long-Term Capital Management, slashing rates to soothe the capital markets even as the economy was heating up. Then it pumped huge amounts of money into the economy out of fear of the Y2K bug. These two events pumped even more helium into the Nasdaq bubble, which then popped in 2000.
The Fed’s response to that bust was to drive the cost of money into the gutter. Thanks to that policy, and the reckless disregard for prudence throughout the lending industry, we experienced the biggest housing and mortgage bubble in the history of the U.S. We also saw too much dumb lending and asset inflation in the leveraged buyout business, in the commercial real estate arena, in commodities, and in the emerging markets.
Rather than combat those bubbles head on, though, the Fed deferred. And now we’re living with the painful fallout.
Yet remarkably, after two huge bubbles and busts fueled in part by misguided policy actions, the Fed is going back to its old playbook. It’s flooding the economy with the biggest tsunami of easy money the world has ever seen. And predictably, it’s having a whole host of unintended consequences . . .