Making Money by Making Money

It was reported today that Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen earns over $200,000 as head of the world’s biggest central bank. Amazingly, there are at least 113 employees at the Fed’s Washington DC headquarters that earns more than she does!

MADRID (MarketWatch) — $201,700 a year doesn’t seem like chump change. That’s what the Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen earns as head of the world’s biggest central bank.

But at least 113 other staffers at the Fed’s Washington headquarters earning more than she does, according to Reuters, which asked for details of central-bank pay under a Freedom of Information Act request.

Reuters sought information on all salaries on the central bank’s board that are above $130,810, generally the top of the government’s pay scale. The Fed responded with a list of those who make more than $225,000, with some exceptions, Reuters said.

The average of those 113 earners at the Fed is $246,506 per year, not counting bonuses and other benefits. The top earner is the Fed’s inspector general, with an annual salary of $312,000, according to Reuters. Yellen’s salary is set by Congress.

By comparison, the average salary at the Securities and Exchange Commission was $157,946 in 2013, while at the Commodities Futures Trading Commission it was $146,323, Reuters pointed out.

Attaining Economic Freedom w/ Mises Institute Senior Fellow Mark Thornton

In this interview, Mark Thornton covers some basics about the Austrian School and the current economic situation.

Four Reasons the Bernanke-Yellen Asset-Price Inflation May Be Nearing Its End

6923Mises Daily Friday by Joseph Salerno:

Once interest rates begin to rise — and rise they must, whether as a result of Fed policy or not — the end of the asset price inflation will be at hand. The result will be another financial crisis and accompanying recession.

CDC, PHARMA, And Mainstream Media On The Same Team

THREE_BEST_FRIENDSUnfortunately this team seems to be covering up a possible risk to children, especially black children.

For years, some parents of autistic children have claimed a link between their children’s condition and vaccines. One vaccine in particular has been mentioned: the MMR (Mumps, Measles, and Rubella).

The Center for Disease Control of the United States has consistently denied any MMR/autism connection. In congressional testimony and elsewhere, it has cited a 2004 study of its own published in Pediatrics.

Now one of the authors of that study, William W. Thompson, a senior scientist employed by the CDC, has admitted that critical data from the study was suppressed.  Thompson released the following statement through his lawyer: “ I regret that my coauthors and I omitted statistically significant information in our 2004 article published in the journal Pediatrics. The omitted data suggested that African American males who received the MMR vaccine before age 36 months were at increased risk for autism.”

It’s Hard to Believe in Vaccines Contaminated by Crony Capitalism

The larger problem here is that the government either develops a new vaccine itself  and licenses it to a private company or subsidizes the development by a private company. It then receives payments for testing the product as well as possible licensing fees if the product is approved. The same government promotes the vaccine to the states and often ensures that it is mandated  for school children.

This system is obviously fraught with conflicts of interest. The party that develops the vaccine should not do the approving. The approving agency should not receive payments depending on approval. This situation would not be hard to fix if government would embrace a few obvious and much needed reforms.

It would help us get the reforms if the mainstream media would come out of its foxhole and report on the problems. The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, and other mainstream outlets have refused to touch the CDC researcher’s startling admission. Why? A possible explanation is that the mainstream media today is completely dependent financially on drug company advertising. And it is drug companies that make vaccines.

The Recent Cover Up

So how serious was the cover-up of data relating to black children described by the CDC’s Dr. Thompson? How much increased risk for autism was associated with the vaccine?

One scientist,  Dr. Brian Hooker, sought the complete study data for a decade and finally got it with the help of Congress. He reported that the raw data suggested a 340% increase in autism among African-American males vaccinated at the recommended age. Others have already challenged this number, and it is still unclear exactly what the newly revealed data will show.

“Dr. Thompson told Dr. Hooker over the phone: “It’s the lowest part of my career, that I went along with that paper.” Thompson revealed that he did not know Dr. Hooker was recording the conversation but did not deny making the statement.

We must also keep in mind that the controversy so far is about the age of vaccination. Children vaccinated before 36 months are being compared to children vaccinated a little later. What is really needed is a study of children given the MMR and other vaccines versus children who have not received the shot at all. For whatever reasons, the government has not done this.

The CDC has instead claimed that the case against vaccines in general is closed. Quite apart from Dr. Thompson’s startling new testimony, there have been reasons to doubt this. For example, a review of the literature in Immunotoxicoloy by the respected researcher Helen Ratajczak has raised many questions. Dr. Thompson agrees that there are still questions that need answering.

“I will do everything I can to assist any unbiased and objective scientists inside or outside the CDC to analyze data collected by the CDC or other public organizations for the purpose of understanding whether vaccines are associated with an increased risk of autism. There are still more questions than answers, and I appreciate that so many families are looking for answers from the scientific community.’ “

At least one observer has compared the CDC’s refusal to publish pertinent and potentially alarming data related to the health of black newborns to the Tuskegee Experiment (http://vimeo.com/user5503203/review/103711143/91f7d3d4d8).

In that infamous case, black males were cold-bloodedly denied treatment for syphilis without their knowledge in order to study what would happen to them.

The controversy over the 2004 paper has also given rise to new charges (http://www.naturalblaze.com/2014/09/5-examples-show-why-cdc-is-corrupt-and.html). One of them is that the CDC knows of potential harm to newborns from flu shots administered to pregnant women, but won’t publish the data or review its recommendation of the shot. These allegations are too new to assess and like the MMR controversy should be studied by objective scientists, if they can be found.

Worries about the CDC have also circulated for years about its handling of the HPV vaccine for genital warts. This vaccine, developed by government scientists and licensed to Merck,  is intended to prevent cervical cancer.  The head of the CDC, Julie Gerberding, who gave it to Merck,  is now president of Merck’s vaccine division.

Economic Illiteracy is Alive and Well

seattle_minimum_wageAs an academic and economist, few things are as frustrating and mind-boggling as the fervor with which people embrace and display their economic illiteracy. It appears some, and an increasing number of them, consider it to be a quality or even a moral advantage to remain ignorant of basic economics.

Rather than considering economic knowledge, which has often been known and affirmed for centuries, this knowledge is attacked. While the scientific process should be one of fundamental (that is, not just for show) and constant scrutiny and reassessment of accepted conclusions, scientific discourse is not the primary domain for the critique and outright rejection and dismissal of economics. No, the critique is formulated by those who show no understanding for the discipline, its scientific approach, or its findings.

A recent column by economic illiterates Mike Konczal and Bryce Covert in The Nation illustrates clearly what this critique of economics is about. The column, titled The Score: Does the Minimum Wage Kill Jobs?, poses as an examination of the evidence regarding the effects of minimum wage laws, and is intended to settle the debate once and for all. Konczal and Covert seem completely oblivious to the fact that this “score” has long been settled in economics; raising, introducing, or enforcing a minimum wage above the market wage produces a situation with fewer jobs ceteris paribus.

But note that while this score has been settled in economics, Konczal and Covert have a different audience in mind. They address the reality-immune punditry: “Throw a rock into the punditsphere and you’ll hit someone arguing that minimum-wage increases kill jobs,” they begin the column. We are supposed to accept that this rhetorical politicization (“kill jobs”) of an economic law is ridiculous on its face. And economic illiterates probably willingly do so, especially if they belong to the same party camp as the authors. Most who read their column also likely won’t see the authors’ dishonest representation (frequently used by “both sides” in the punditsphere) of the well-established economic truth that artificially raising costs reduces voluntary supply. (Its truthfulness should be obvious, really.) Read More→

New Leonard Read Sculpture at the Mises Institute

Board member Dr. Don Printz has donated to the Institute a magnificent bronze bust of libertarian pioneer Leonard E. Read (1898-1983), founder of the Foundation for Economic Education and friend of Ludwig von Mises, Henry Hazlitt, Ron Paul, and Lew Rockwell.

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More photos here.

The Connection Between Wealth Disparity and Recessions

Mark Thornton on PressTV:

“In a sense wealth disparities do indicate recessions because they have the same cause as the boom-bust cycle in the economy, that is, when the central bank – the Federal Reserve of the United States – reduces interest rates to very low levels, they cause a boom in the economy which leads to an inevitable bust in the economy,” Thornton, senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, told Press TV in a phone interview on Wednesday.

He added, “Low interest rates; easy money, easy credit help people who own capital, so that their wealth increases, but those same real interest rates actually hurt the average worker in the economy and, as a result, the disparities in wealth increase and you get also the  boom-bust cycle.”

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Anarchic Courts and More

Summary by Luis Rivera III:

Here Dr. Walter Block, host Daniel Rothchild and other guests go over a number of topics including:

-Courts in an anarchic society and how applied moral philosophies such as deontology and utilitarianism can help with libertarian hypothetical constructs.

-Punitive settlements which are non-monetary such a installing fear to your perpetrator.

-The differences in battles that legitimate courts would face

-The intrinsic free market hindrances against bandit courts and the intrinsic incentives for legitimate courts.

Youtube link. 

Leland B. Yeager: Master of the Fluttering Veil

One of the more important monetary theorists of the mid to late 1900s, Leland Yeager, Ludwig von Mises Professor of Economics, Emeritus, at Auburn University, recently turned 90. The Mises Institute last week hosted a reception his honor. Multiple tributes to Professor Yeager are available at the free banking blog.  Well worth reading to anyone interested in monetary economics.

Steve Horwitz has referred to Yeager as “one of the most underappreciated economists.” Horwitz summarizes, quite correctly, the importance of Yeager’s contributions thusly, “Everyone who finds Austrian economics valuable and wants to comment on monetary matters should not do so until they have read and digested Yeager’s work.” I would add more broadly, ANYONE, Austrian leaning or not, who wants to comment on monetary matters should not do so until they have read and digested Yeager’s insightful work. The Fluttering Veil is a great collection of Yeager’s major contributions.

For those who might be interested, Credit Creation or Financial Intermediation?: Fractional-Reserve Banking in a Growing Economy, provides a quibble with some aspects of Yeager’s work relative to ABCT.

Leonard Liggio, RIP

liggioRalph Raico writes in Mises Daily:

Leonard Liggio has died, at the age of 81.

He was my friend for close to sixty years, and I came to know him well. Today my mind is filled with thoughts and memories of him.

Leonard was a Catholic, a scholar, and a libertarian.

His Catholic faith was his lodestar. Leonard was a “birthright Catholic,” and from his childhood through to university and graduate work at Georgetown and Fordham and for the rest of his life, Leonard enriched his understanding of his religion and participated in the sacraments of his Church. Ultimately, he was admitted into the Order of the Knights of Malta.

But he was also a Christian in another sense as well. I never witnessed Leonard treat other people with anything but evident respect, and his life was filled with innumerable kindnesses. A small example: once Leonard took me to a meeting of Dorothy Day’sCatholic Worker group. Day was a left-anarchist with confused views on economics, but he favored her for her opposition to war and because each year she and her associate Ammon Hennacy publicly protested on the anniversary of the atomic incineration of the Japanese cities. I saw Leonard privately slip to Day what was at the time a notable contribution. Here also he was following Jesus’s admonition, “When you do some act of charity, do not announce it with a flourish of trumpets, as the hypocrites do in synagogue and in the streets…when you do some act of charity, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing…”

Leonard Liggio was a humble man. He never stood in judgment of the personal foibles and idiosyncrasies of his friends. I suppose he believed that his job was to see to the perfecting of his own soul. Yet he could act forcefully. Once when we traveling in Europe, in Germany as I recall, I was startled to hear Leonard say, “Your hand is in my pocket!” I saw that he had caught a young woman’s forearm in an iron grip. He cast it disdainfully away, and the little thief scampered off.

Leonard was a man of immense learning, the most learned person I knew of his generation. Yet no one ever wore his learning more lightly. He pioneered the study of the highly significant school of French liberals of the early nineteenth century, introducing them to the English-speaking world. He introduced Murray Rothbard and me to historical revisionism, which has become a standard component of libertarian thought today. I know that Murray very much appreciated Leonard’s many suggestions in regard to his multi-volume work, Conceived in Liberty, on libertarian currents in colonial and revolutionary America.

Read the full article.

Trade as Good as Gold—or, How the Hanseatic League Thrived without Debt

Fotothek_df_ps_0005300_Rathäuser_^_Kirchen_^_BasilikenWe’re often told that international trade thrives on debt. In an especially risky line of business, financial intermediation, with its loans and guarantees, is the indispensable infrastructure for the progress of commerce. Perhaps entrepreneurs wouldn’t even consider selling goods to foreigners if it weren’t for banks and credit markets to finance them. Naturally, if and when markets fail in this role, Ex-Im Banks and other government intervention must provide ‘extra liquidity’ for trade.

While this string of non-sequiturs sweeps economists of all stripes, international trade—or better yet, trade in general—is better off not ‘banking on’ such helping hands. Without doubt, loans have their economic role, but retained earnings, equity, or simply cash-hoarding can be just as effective in transferring purchasing power to entrepreneurs. In fact, international trade thrived in times when banking and financial systems were not only in their in their infancy, but also when oceanic trade was dangerous and expensive.  Nonetheless, it began as a self-financed venture, a venture for which merchants themselves set money aside. The Hanseatic League (c. 13th to 17th century)—a commercial association of traders from German towns—is a good example of this type of financial behavior.

Read More→

Market Choices in Cannabis, Plus Cooking Classes

As part of a follow-up to my article on cannabis industry and its many related industries, I picked up a copy of Culture magazine, which bills itself as “the #1 cannabis lifestyle magazine” at  a Denver pizza place. I was intrigued by the ads. A lot of them are what you’d expect: hippie or stoner-themed ads for, well, stoners. But many ads were for more sophisticated users such as this one which illustrates how the market, when legal, can provide a wide array of different strengths and features of the cannabis itself.  In the black market, on the other hand, you’re just stuck with whatever your shady and unaccountable illegal dealer happens to have.

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And of course, there’s money to be made in related service industries, such as this one which teaches cannabis cuisine:  Read More→

Happy 90th Birthday, Leland B. Yeager!

Last week, the Mises Institute hosted a reception in Ward Conservatory in honor of Dr. Leland B. Yeager‘s 90th birthday.

Leland Yeager is Ludwig von Mises Professor of Economics, Emeritus, at Auburn University.

Here is a 1991 interview from the Austrian Economics Newsletter.

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More photos here.

 

The Economics of Sports Stadiums

Mark Thornton discusses the crony capitalism of sports stadiums on Freedom Works Radio.

Richard Ebeling Talks Mises and the Current Economic Situation

Richard Ebeling takes a look at the current economic situation and its bubble like appearance.

Mark Thornton Discusses The Great Depression

On the It’s Your Money Show. Select the Oct 5, 2014 show.

Photos from the Oxford Debate

Mark Thornton tells me that photos from the debate have finally arrived. A sampling:

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Mark Thornton on the Latest Employment Data

Beginning at 40:00, Mark Thornton discusses football, the stadium bubble, and recent employment data.

 

Charlie Shrem’s Office

A reader writes after viewing this documentary and noticing some Mises Institute books in the background…

“As with all book-nerds, I’m ever eager to scan the background of images and video to see what books folks have on their shelf.  No big surprise for a Bitcoin documentary, but I still got a kick out of what I saw in Charlie Shrem’s office.”

mises books

Replicate a part of Shrem’s library for yourself with The Economics of Liberty, For a New Liberty, and The Bastiat Collection.

International Conference of Prices & Markets Coming Soon

Reflective of the growing international participation at the Toronto Austrian Scholars Conference, the event will be rebranded as the International Conference of Prices & Markets in concert with the Mises Canada published Journal of Prices & Markets.

The 3rd iteration of the conference will be held on November 8th, with an opening reception the evening before, and the event continuing throughout the weekend.

Read the 2013 conference Papers & Proceedings here.

This year’s featured speakers are Dr. Jordan Peterson, filmmaker Jimmy Morrison, and Douglas French.

The International Conference of Prices & Markets is designed to combine the opportunities of a professional meeting, with the added attraction of hearing and presenting new and innovative research, engaging in vigorous debate, and interacting with like-minded scholars who share research interests.