Transcending Politics

submitted by jwithrow.
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Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
Transcending Politics

October 20, 2016
Hot Springs, VA

Just as the technology of printing altered and reduced the power of medieval guilds and the social power structure, so too will cryptologic methods fundamentally alter the nature of corporations and of government interference in economic transactions… And just as a seemingly minor invention like barbed wire made possible the fencing-off of vast ranches and farms, thus altering forever the concepts of land and property rights in the frontier West, so too will the seemingly minor discovery out of an arcane branch of mathematics come to be the wire clippers which dismantle the barbed wire around intellectual property. Arise, you have nothing to lose but your barbed wire fences!” – Timothy C. May

The S&P closed out Wednesday at $2,144. Gold closed at $1,270 per ounce. Crude Oil closed at $51.72 per barrel, and the 10-year Treasury rate closed at 1.75%. Bitcoin is trading around $630 per BTC today.

Dear Journal,

Today is little Maddie’s birthday! I still remember, two years ago to the day, witnessing her first breath of life. I can see it in my mind’s eye just a clearly as I see the computer screen in front of me. She has become a fantastically sweet and clever young lady in two years time, and her father’s cup runneth over with pride and joy.

Due to scheduling constraints, we actually celebrated her birthday on Tuesday. A few months back I asked Madison what she wanted to do for her birthday. “I want to ride Leo the horse!”, she responded without hesitation. So that’s exactly what we did. Continue reading “Transcending Politics”

The Only Debate Topic That Matters

submitted by jwithrow.
Click here to get the Journal of a Wayward Philosopher by Email

Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
The Only Debate Topic That Matters

September 29, 2016
Hot Springs, VA

Loading up the nation with debt and leaving it for the following generations to pay is morally irresponsible. Excessive debt is a means by which governments oppress the people and waste their substance. No nation has a right to contract debt for periods longer than the majority contracting it can expect to live. ” – Thomas Jefferson

The S&P closed out Wednesday at $2,171. Gold closed at $1,327 per ounce. Crude Oil closed at $47.12 per barrel, and the 10-year Treasury rate closed at 1.57%. Bitcoin is trading around $605 per BTC today.

Dear Journal,

Nearly one-third of all Americans – almost 100 million people – tuned in to watch the first presidential debate earlier this week. This represents an increase in viewership by nearly 40% from the 2012 presidential debates, and it almost rivaled television’s biggest draw – the Super Bowl – which received 112 million viewers last year. Apparently the debate was aired on television throughout Europe as well.

I see these numbers and the first thing that pops into my head is a question: how in the world do the ratings agencies know how many people are sitting on the couch in front of a given television?

I didn’t spend too much time with this, but all of the numbers I have seen reference “viewers” and “people”, not “households”. They are very specific about this.

I can’t help but think about poor Winston in George Orwell’s 1984 – he sits down in front of his telescreen and while he is watching it, it is also watching him… Continue reading “The Only Debate Topic That Matters”

The Moral Value of Money

submitted by jwithrow.
Click here to get the Journal of a Wayward Philosopher by Email

Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
The Moral Value of Money

March 17, 2016
Hot Springs, VA

The S&P closed out Wednesday at $2,027. Gold closed at $1,264 per ounce. Crude Oil closed at $38.50 per barrel, and the 10-year Treasury rate closed at 1.94%. Bitcoin is trading around $415 per BTC today.

Dear Journal,

Last week we examined the majesty of mindfulness, and we suggested that politics was the bane of human civilization. There are many reasons for this, but at the core is this: politics is based on coercion. Politics rests upon the notion that those who gain political power have the right to force people to do things against their will using the police power of government. This is always a zero-sum game: one side wins and the other loses.

The U.S. federal government collects roughly $3 trillion in taxes annually. The civics textbooks tell us that taxes are the price we pay for civilization, but I have to ask: where does all of this money go? Continue reading “The Moral Value of Money”

Becoming Antifragile

submitted by jwithrow.

Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
Becoming Antifragile

September 16, 2015
Hot Springs, VA

The S&P closed out Tuesday at $1,970. Gold closed at $1,102 per ounce. Oil closed at $44.59 per barrel, and the 10-year Treasury rate closed at 2.18%. Bitcoin is trading around $227 per BTC today.

Dear Journal,

Wife Rachel cornered me the other day: “I saw what you did in your newest post!”, she said in an accusatory tone.

“Whatever do you mean, honey?”, I asked innocently.

“You talked about Madison buying me a walker when I am old!”

I couldn’t contain my laughter. It’s the little things that I find most amusing.

Last week I delved into global finance and speculated that a currency crisis in the U.S. was on the horizon. It is just unreasonable to create trillions of dollars from thin air on a regular basis and expect the world to accept those dollars ad infinitum. I observed that government has no intention of ceasing its monetary escapades, thus currency ruin is inevitable. Continue reading “Becoming Antifragile”

The Individual is Rising: 2nd Edition

submitted by jwithrow.The Individual is Rising

Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
The Individual is Rising: 2nd Edition

September 4, 2015
Hot Springs, VA

The S&P closed out Thursday at $1,946. Gold closed at $1,124 per ounce. Oil closed up at $46.75 per barrel, and the 10-year Treasury rate closed at 2.19%. Bitcoin is trading around $230 per BTC today.

Dear Journal,

Wife Rachel took it upon herself to berate me for my past few journal entries. She said they were too gloomy. She also berated me for failing to provide any light-hearted family updates. As any good husband would, I flipped the selective hearing switch on and pretended not to hear her.

After a couple years of marriage I have learned that there are times to trust her judgment and times to ignore it. Choosing what to order from a restaurant is a good time to discount her judgment, for example. Despite my unwelcomed reminders, she has a tendency to order a meal completely unrelated to the theme of the restaurant. I am quite sure the chef is shaking his head when her order comes in. “Hamburger and french fries, are you kidding me? This is an authentic Italian joint!”, he exclaims in the kitchen. I just chuckle to myself: At least she ordered a glass of Chianti.

Relating to and connecting with other people is her forte, however, so despite outward appearances I listen carefully when she advises me on such matters. Her emotional intelligence never ceases to amaze me. Maybe it’s just a woman thing, but I suspect years of studying finance and economics hasn’t help improve my own EI much, either. So if Rachel says I should incorporate more light-hearted matters into my writing then I feel compelled to talk about her poor menu choices. Thanks honey!

Moving on to another fun topic; I launched the second edition of The Individual is Rising this week. The Kindle format will be free on Amazon all day today, and then will be discounted at $2.99 all next week. Continue reading “The Individual is Rising: 2nd Edition”

The Nation Is Not the State

submitted by jwithrow.nation

Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
The Nation Is Not the State

August 11, 2015
Hot Springs, VA

The S&P closed out Monday at $2,104. Gold closed at $1,104 per ounce. Oil closed out just under $46 per barrel, and the 10-year Treasury rate closed at 2.24%. Bitcoin is trading around $267 per BTC today.

Dear Journal,

Last week I suggested that the growth of the nation-state in the 20th century brought forth the rise of collectivism. I speculated that we may have reached peak collectivism and thus inferred the nation-state model may be ripe for decline, however. Today I will point out the troubling macroeconomic trends once again in support of this speculation.

The democratic nation-state model has grown so massive largely because the political class has bribed people with half-baked social insurance (welfare) programs across the board. This has led to a massive accumulation of debt throughout the entire western world. Simultaneously, the demographics of many western nation-states is such that there are more aged people drawing from pensions and national social insurance programs than there are younger workers to pay for them. This dynamic has resulted in an absolutely gargantuan accrual of unfunded liabilities.

What this means is most governments in the western world are already bankrupt. Many people remain unaware of this fact because governments have kicked the can down the road by manipulating interest rates ever lower (negative in places!) and creating huge amounts of national currency out of thin air via the central bank mechanism. More and more people are slowly waking up to reality, however, and this is leading to a loss of trust in the nation-state model. Continue reading “The Nation Is Not the State”

The Case for Gold

submitted by jwithrow.total-global-assets

“The process [of debauching the currency] engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.” – John Maynard Keynes

This chart illustrates the construct of the global financial system denominated in U.S. dollars.

There is an estimated 171,000 tons of physical gold bullion currently in existence which is $7 trillion if priced at $1,300 per ounce. Physical gold served the global financial system as an anchor in some capacity from the Industrial Revolution all the way up until 1971.

The U.S. dollar became the sole anchor of the international monetary system in 1971 and there is now approximately $25 trillion sitting in cash globally. Additionally, global equity markets are valued at roughly $57.5 trillion and global investable real estate valuations are roughly $70 trillion.

Global debt has reached $175 trillion with governments being the biggest debtors. This number does not include all of the unfunded liabilities accrued by the social welfare states of the world.

Dwarfing all other U.S. dollar denominated asset classes is the over-the-counter derivatives market. According to the BIS, OTC derivatives total $639 trillion with interest rate derivatives being the largest category by far.

So there is approximately $1,028 trillion worth of U.S. dollar denominated global assets in existence and physical gold, the market’s choice for money over several centuries, makes up less than 1% of total global assets.

Gold is the only asset on this chart that has no counterparty risk meaning there are no other contractual parties involved when you hold physical gold.

The U.S. dollar is issued and managed by the Federal Reserve and the Fed can (and does) reduce the value of the dollar simply by creating more dollars. Equity values obviously depend on the particular company’s financial performance. Real estate investments depend on a tenant to make payments in a timely fashion. The counterparty to debt is the debtor who must make timely payments and the debtor typically has counterparties as well. Derivatives, the largest global asset class, come with a complex web of counterparties that are virtually impossible to predict.

Global dollar denominated assets have been able to balloon up to $1,028 almost exclusively because of 40+ years of constant credit and credit-based money expansion. One day credit will have to contract and that $1,028 trillion figure will dissipate rather quickly. Where do you think capital will fly to when that day comes?

My bet is physical gold.

Image Source: Global Precious Metals

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