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:




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.

Morals and Markets: A Response

Former Mises Summer Fellow Jonathan Newman has published “Morals and Markets: A Response” at Libertarian Papers which is edited by Matt McCaffrey:

Abstract: In their 2013 Science article, “Morals and Markets,” Armin Falk and Nora Szech presented experimental evidence that markets erode moral values.  The present paper addresses problems in their experiment design, treatments, and operational definitions. Laboratory settings are ideal for uncovering certain causal connections, but fall short when market participation is a treatment and moral erosion is a measured outcome. Markets are difficult, if not impossible, to simulate and moral erosion is difficult, if not impossible, to define and measure for the purposes of an experiment. Falk and Szech’s experiment may also suffer from more mundane issues like priming effects, experimenter effects, and changing more than one variable per treatment group.

An Austrian Economist Reports From a Mainstream Economics Conference

6922Mises Daily Thursday by Christopher Westley:

Christopher Westley reports from this year’s National Association of Business Economists Convention. He finds that the mainstream’s intellectual blinders are firmly in place, and that the “fatal conceit” Friedrich Hayek wrote about in 1988 is alive and well in 2014.

John Tamny on Money and Credit

B121Mr. John Tamny has kindly taken notice  of my review of Money by Steve Forbes and Elizabeth Ames. (Tamny’s comments are here.) In my review, I questioned the claim of Forbes and Ames that money is a measure of value. In doing so, Tamny thinks, I disagreed with Mises. Unlike me, Mises did not deny the obvious truth that money is a measure of value.

Is that so? Here is what Mises says about this exact point in The Theory of Money and Credit:


On the Measurement of Value

1 The Immeasurability of Subjective Use-Values

Although it is usual to speak of money as a measure of value and
prices, the notion is entirely fallacious. So long as the subjective
theory of value is accepted, this question of measurement cannot arise.
In the older political economy, the search for a principle governing the
measurement of value was to a certain extent justifiable. If, in
accordance with an objective theory of value, the possibility of an
objective concept of commodity values is accepted, and exchange is
regarded as the reciprocal surrender of equivalent goods, then the
conclusion necessarily follows that exchange transactions must be
preceded by measurement of the quantity of value contained in each of
the objects that are to be exchanged. And it is then an obvious step to
regard money as the measure of value.

In the plan of Forbes and Ames, the government would aim to keep the dollar price of gold constant. Doing this would require the government to issue or withdraw dollars, from time to time. Amazingly, Tamny says, “Von Mises seemed to agree. As he wrote in The Theory of Money & Credit, ‘No individual and no nation need fear at any time to have less money than it needs.’”  In other words, Forbes and Ames, seconded by Tamny, think that, depending on the dollar price of gold, a nation may have less money than it needs. The government should issue or withdraw enough dollars to restore the dollar price of gold which these authors want to maintain as a constant. A quotation by Mises that denies that a nation need fear having less money than it needs is taken by Tamny to support Forbes and Ames’s contrary opinion.

Evidently, in Tamny’s lexicon, “seems to agree” means “directly contradicts.” This is not the only unusual entry to be found there: “credit” means, as he uses the word, “real resources.” Some remarks from Through the Looking-Glass come to mind:

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

A New One for the Photo Archives

Thank to Walter Block who recently posted this on his Facebook page:

1958299_339005306282233_6134228761902857133_n (1)

Walter Block Interviewed about His Book ‘Toward a Libertarian Society’

Summary by Luis Rivera III:

In this video, Walter Block briefly goes over where rights might come from. He mentions Murray Rothbard’s natural rights theory, the utilitarian argument for rights and Hans Hoppe’s argumentation of ethics. Block, goes over what libertarianism consists of, namely, abiding by the non-aggression principle which he defines.


For more, read Toward a Libertarian Society:

Is the Surge in Capital Goods Orders Due to Malinvestment?

6921Mises Daily Tuesday by Frank Shostak

Orders in capital goods have been going up since 2009. Normally, capital goods purchases suggest economic growth, but if the orders are a result of easy money, the purchases point not to wealth creation, but to a bubble.


The Rothbard-Paul Message

2801Mises Daily Tuesday by Darrell Falconburg.

A young libertarian tells where the liberty movement should go.


“Jean Tirole wins Nobel for a pseudo-problem”

The Financial Post picks up Joe Salerno’s blog post on the latest Nobel Prize winner in economics.

Dutch Treat Pension System

In the US, many pension plans are hopelessly underwater as the economy heads into troubled times. State employee pension plan are $1 trillion in the red, local government employee pensions are nearly $500 billion in deficit, and even employer-funded pensions (buoyed by rising stock and bond markets) are showing problems. Of course the Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare fiasco is showing red ink for as far as the eye can see. The combination of overly generous benefits and demographically declining tax bases means that there will have to be severe benefit cuts down the road.

In the Netherlands the pension system seems to work much better. Employee contributions are high, employer contributions are low, and each generation is expected to pay for its own benefits. The pensions themselves are required to faithfully assess the status of their financial conditions and if shortfalls arise, as they did in the 2008 financial crisis, then benefits are cut and contributions are raised to keep the system solvent on an ongoing financial basis. The payout is approximately 70% of your earned income rather than the 40% that Social Security pays.

According to Mary Williams Walsh:

The Dutch say their approach is, in fact, supposed to prevent a crisis — the crisis that will ensue if the boomer generation retires without fully funded benefits. Their $1.05 minimum is really just a minimum; pension funds are encouraged to keep an even bigger surplus, to help them weather market shocks. The Dutch sailed into the global collapse of 2008 with $1.45 for every dollar of benefits owed, far more than they appeared to need. But when the dust settled, they were down to just 90 cents. The damage was so bad that the central bank gave them a breather: They had five years to get back to the $1.05 minimum, instead of the usual three.

American public plans emerged from the crisis in worse shape, on the whole, and many allowed themselves 30 years to recover. But 30 years is so long that the boomer generation will have retired by then, and the losses will have been pushed far into the future for others to repay.

It’s a recipe for disaster if the employer happens to be a city like Detroit. The city’s pension system used a 30-year schedule to cover losses but reset it at “Year 1” every year, a tactic employed in a surprising number of places. In Detroit, it meant the city never replaced the money that the pension system lost. When Detroit finally declared bankruptcy last year, an outside review found a $3.5 billion shortfall, one of the biggest claims of the bankruptcy. Manipulating the 30-year funding schedule had helped to hide it.

Pentagon Says Global Warming Presents Immediate Security Threat

250px-The_Pentagon_January_2008With dollar signs in their eyes, Pentagon officials have jumped on the global warming bandwagon and   ”released a report Monday asserting decisively that climate change poses an immediate threat to national security, with increased risks from terrorism, infectious disease, global poverty and food shortages.” What’s the answer to these many woes? Why, to give the military-industrial complex lots and lots and lots of money.

Why is ISIS gaining ground? Because global warming. The climate experts at the DOD say so.

Not that the Defense Department was ever at risk of seeing any real cuts. What backers of the Pentagon call “draconian cuts” are never more than tiny trims to the rate of increase in Pentagon spending, and of course, the Pentagon is awash on money today, just as it has always been every single day since 1945.

Conservatives and other pro-military groups will likely take issue with this latest bid for more cash from the Pentagon, not because they think the Pentagon is already overfunded but because they’re against the acceptance of global warming/climate change as a real phenomenon. This will be mentioned in the right wing press, but largely overlooked, because for them, the Pentagon is to always be treated with deference and credulity whenever it demands more money.

Not that it will make much difference either way. This global warming report is just a way for the Pentagon to pile on its already huge lobbying effort to keep the money flowing, and there’s no shortage of right wing politicians and pundits calling for an even bigger river of cash flowing to the government in the name of “defense.” This latest report simply offers an opportunity to get a few center-left politicians on board who might have been reluctant to sign yet another balnk check for the Pentagon. It also offers a few talking points to the administration in its climate change efforts.

The generals, all of whom are political appointees and lifelong bureaucrats who haven’t held real jobs in decades, will be more than happy to come up with exciting new plans for dealing with global warming, and all the manpower and trillions of dollars that will require over the next 30 or 40 years. It would unpatriotic to do anything less. National security is at stake.

Rothbard on Self-Defense and War

back of a security guardMises Daily Tuesday by David Gordon:

Contrary to the claims of many advocates for expanding the already-huge war apparatus of the United States, Libertarians in general — and Murray Rothbard in particular — are not pacifists, but reject the killing of innocents and other unjustified forms of military aggression.

How Much Is Obama’s War on ISIS Going to Cost?

rsz_3040508093_a66a92cc59_o_1Mises Daily Tuesday by Daniel McAdams:

How much is Obama’s war on ISIS Going to Cost you? You don’t want to know.

Christopher Columbus, The New World, and Private Property

With the exception of a few ethnic Italian activists, no American appears to actually celebrate Columbus Day anymore (assuming it was ever “celebrated” in any meaningful sense). And unless you work for a bank or a government agency, you may not even notice it’s a “holiday” at all. Indeed, it’s quite possible that Columbus Day would be all but ignored, if it were not for a perennially enraged group of activists who take Columbus’s many acts of thievery and murder in the New World and use them to indict people born nearly 500 years after Columbus drew his last breath.

Even in his own day, Columbus was accused of inexcusable brutality, and even his friends had to admit he suffered from extreme vanity, ambition, and a lust to rule over other people. A politician par excellence, he continually lobbied for more and more political power, riches, and favors from the Spanish crown. His record was not impressive, and King Ferdinand refused to grant him the governorship of the West Indies which Columbus so longed for.


His own contemporaries noted with contempt that Columbus presided over the mass murder of the natives, and contrary to the current narrative among anti-Columbus crusaders today, it was hardly European gospel that the natives be treated as unpersons without property rights. Indeed, the natives were regarded by many as having the same rights as all human beings. Being non-European certainly did not bring with it sub-human status, and a papal envoy sent to Peking in the 14th century was  not sent to inform the Chinese that they were to surrender all their property.

In fact, this pro-property position was established clearly, at least among the Catholic countries, by 1537 when Pope Paul III issued the papal bull “Sublimus Dei” which stated that the American natives are rational beings while concluding:

…the said Indians and all other people who may later be discovered by Christians, are by no means to be deprived of their liberty or the possession of their property, even though they be outside the faith of Jesus Christ; and that they may and should, freely and legitimately, enjoy their liberty and the possession of their property; nor should they be in any way enslaved; should the contrary happen, it shall be null and have no effect.

Of course, people listened to the Pope back then about as much as they do now, so much of the New World nonetheless continued along the path of Might Make Right. The fact that the natives always retained their property rights (in the moral sense) did little to prevent them from losing their property in the face of vastly superior numbers and firepower.

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