Friday, February 22, 2013

Worldwide Gun ownership and homicide rate info-graphic and the purpose of bad news

2/12/2013 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…
Tonight’s State of the Union address by President Obama will once again draw a sharp focus on gun control, or lack thereof in the United States.  The theory held out by gun control advocates is that restricting access to guns will serve as a deterrent to violence.  Unfortunately, the statistics on a national and global scale argue firmly against this cause/effect relationship, as the following info-graphic illustrates:
Contrary to Utopian logic, an increase in overall gun ownership serves to decrease the rate of intentional homicides, not the reverse.
If a higher incidence of gun ownership paradoxically produces a lower intentional homicide rate, why would the idea of gun control be floated by the leader of the “Free” world at all, especially when such ideas are in clear contradiction with the document which He has sworn to uphold?
The Benefits of bad news
Mr. Obama and the rest of the well-meaning individuals who are at the head of the rallying cry for increased gun control have one thing in mind when they float such ideas:
Columbine, Sandy Hook, and innumerable other mass shootings in recent history have cast a stigma over gun ownership that world improvers, our pet name for those who believe that they and only they know what is best for humanity, have latched on to as evidence that only certain persons should be allowed to possess firearms.
Clearly, mass shootings are horrific tragedies and attempts to avoid them should be made at all costs.   Again, paradoxically, they seem to occur in environments when the instigator(s) are the only ones in possession of a firearm.  However, while they race to the top of the news feeds when they occur, mass shootings are generally outliers to the human experience.  As such, while they are horrific tragedies, they are not as common as one would think.
It is for these reasons, both that they are uncommon and that they are horrific, that the national psyche attaches to them and examines them the way one would rise to investigate an unexpected sound in the night.  For it is our rightly held belief as human beings that these things should not be, and if they have occurred, then something must be wrong.  The glory of free societies is the indomitable belief that if something is wrong, we, the people, can work to make it right.
In this sense, while we cringe at the many headlines that announce a mass shooting, or any act of violence, for that matter, we have trained ourselves to breathe a sigh of relief.  For the very fact that they are being reported on means that an investigation of their root causes will rise to a level of national debate.  This reporting and national debate is one of the healthiest expressions of free speech that can occur.
While we do not believe that gun control will serve to mitigate tragedies, we are pleased that the debate rages on, for the answers are out there, and it gives us hope for all of mankind that we are diligently searching for it.
After you are shocked by the next tragic headline that comes your way, remember to give thanks for your reaction.  For this reaction, at its core, is an inkling of the hope for the betterment of all mankind that is alive and well within you.
So carry on, Mr. President, as Free men and women, we are privileged to hear you out, as well as disagree on solutions.  We share your sorrow at these events, and will work to make a better world for ourselves and our posterity.
Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The GDP and Unemployment Red Herrings

2/1/2013 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…
As we begin the month of February, it would appear that the US Economy has suffered from a couple of data shocks, which, taken at face value, would call into question the validity of the current rally in nearly every asset class (save bonds) and give rise to fears of the US slipping into another Recession or worse.
First, the Gross Domestic Product read came in at a negative 0.1% for the fourth quarter.  The GDP is mostly a bogus data point in an economy with a debt based currency.  At this point, the negative data, like most data that will appear this year, will give the Federal Reserve the statistical cover they need to continue QE and decimate the dollar.

The Unemployment rate, which inched up slightly, falls into the same category.  Given the paradigm shift that the US workforce is undergoing as the internet makes geography a non issue for anyone who works from a computer, and the demographic shift as the Baby Boomers ease into retirement make it hard to say what would constitute an appropriate amount of Unemployment at this time.
Full employment has always been a slippery concept, and at this point, the BLS statistics can be counted on to err on the side of covering the inflationary consequences of QE as well.
What has not changed is that people, when given the chance, will tend to spend more money than they have.  This tendency is again being allowed to manifest itself as credit restrictions are easing in the US and soon, even your cat will begin to receive credit card offers as they did in the good old days of 2005.
The Federal Reserve and every Central Bank on the planet have stuffed every orifice of the financial system with cash, so much so that they must lend gobs of it out to remain solvent.  The consumers are taking the bait, and the wave of inflation is now rolling through stocks and commodities.  It will not stop until QE stops.
And given the propaganda that passed as economic data prints this past week, QE will be with us for quite some time.  Plan and invest accordingly.
Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.
Stay Fresh!
Key Indicators for February 1, 2013

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Anarchy is an Ultimate Given - A New Ebook on Kindle

The following is the introduction to our latest ebook, which is now available on Kindle.  It is the latest volume in the Why what we use as Money Matters series.  Enjoy!
Anarchy is an Ultimate Given
An∙ar∙chy – noun – ‘anərkē
The definition of anarchy, according to the Merriam-webster Dictionary:
1.a:  absence of government
  b:  a state of lawlessness or political disorder due to the absence of governmental authority
  c:  a utopian society of individuals who enjoy complete freedom without government
2.a:  absence or denial of any authority or established order
  b:  absence of order
Disarming the State is as simple as changing and then using one's mind
Disarming the State is as simple as changing and then using one’s mind
Anarchy.  The word strikes fear in the hearts general public, who have been trained to conjure images from fraternity house shenanigans to rioting and looting on the streets of important cities at its mention.  For most civilized persons, with these mental images close at hand, anarchy is something to be avoided at all costs.  How can civilized society carry on with the threat of bombs and looting effectively slamming the brakes on human progress?
In this volume, we seek to free the concept of anarchy from these negative connotations.  For anarchy, far from being the greater evil in the choice amongst evils when it comes to man’s state in this world, is really not a choice at all.  Rather, anarchy is something that every human being and animal on the planet is born into.  It is the basic state of man in this world.  It is an ultimate given.
As an ultimate given, it is futile, nay, self-destructive for men and women to live their lives fretting about falling from a state of order into one of anarchy.  The line of thinking is debilitating and counterproductive to what must be mankind’s highest and most urgent calling in the physical realm:  How best to respond to the state of anarchy in which they live.
For it is not anarchy itself that causes disorder and the other maladies which the mere mention of the word bring to mind, but mankind’s failed responses to this ultimate given under which they labor and cause others to labor on their behalf.  The only thing more dangerous than confusing anarchy for the disorder which arises from the collapse of a failed response to it, is to spend ones life’s toils aiding another person’s failed response to his or her inherently anarchic surroundings.
Further, this volume seeks to give the reader a sufficient level of awareness to step back, if even for a moment, to evaluate the response to anarchy under which they are currently laboring and make a sober evaluation as to whether they are truly laboring in alignment with their own best interests.
Too many lives have been wasted laboring under a mistaken fear and avoidance of anarchy, and we hope this volume will steer the reader away from this fate.  It may not change the way you think or what you do at all, and that is good.  For to personally validate ones own course in life with a firmer grasp of the facts has caused harm to no one.  In fact, it should cause one to carry on with a renewed sense of pride and purpose.  We only encourage you, then, to offer others the chance to give their own lives a sober evaluation, and respect their decision to change once they truly understand the wonderful anarchy into which we are all born.
The book is now available on Kindle and will be available on Smashwords in early May.
Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.
Stay Fresh!

The currency war to end all currency wars

1/29/2013 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…
With Japan’s recent aggressive devaluation of the Yen, the financial news has again taken up the phrase “currency war” to describe any lack of coordination in the steady devaluation of fiat currencies across the globe.
In a recent piece over at the Financial Times, Niall Ferguson identifies the Bank of England as the current winner in the stealth currency war that is currently being waged.  While the Bank of England may be the winner, the losers are not other nations, as the term war would suggest, but rather the savings of those who are unfortunate to count bank accounts or debt instruments denominated in national currencies among their assets.
Who, then, are the winners in what we have dubbed the currency war to end all currency wars?  In a simplified sense, those who hold the Dow Jones Industrial stock index (not the individual stocks, which are, in the final analysis, a crap shoot) and those who own gold.

In an attempt to illustrate this point while at the same time saving 1,000 words, should the old adage hold true, we have created the following graph, which plots a normalization (which brings the sheer magnitude of the numbers down to a workable scale) of the M1 and M2 monetary measures against both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and gold prices, all averaged on a monthly basis since April of 1968.
Graph of Normalized DJIA and Gold assets classes vs. M1, M2, and Federal Funds Rate measures
Graph of normalized DJIA and Gold assets classes vs. M1, M2, and Federal Funds Rate measures
Those with a keen eye will notice that the only data point that has been on a downward trend since the US Dollar was officially released from the shackles of the gold standard on August 15, 1971 has been the Federal Funds Rate, which in theory should have an inverse relationship with all of the other data points.
We will leave you with three observations from our graphic exercise:
1.  The most volatile of the two asset data sets has been that of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.  However, despite its volatility, its overall trend tends to follow that of the M2, or expanded, money supply measure.
2.  The more stable of the two asset data sets has been gold, which has generally lagged growth in the M1, or base money supply to which it was tied to pre 1971.  Beginning in the year 2000, gold again began to follow the M1 trend.
3.  The light blue line, which tracks the Federal Funds Rate, has been on a downtrend.  The upticks in the Federal Funds Rate, in theory, should have lead to downward ticks in the M1 and M2   As you can see from the graph, this is not the case.
The conclusion of this brief analysis is the following:  Holding Stock Indices such as the Dow Jones should give some measure of protection against inflation over the long term, perhaps even superior to gold.  However, since 2000, gold has held steady as an inflation hedge and generally will have less liquidity risk than stocks.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is that upwards changes in the Federal Funds rate, even those as dramatic as were experienced during the Volcker years, have little or no effect on the near term trajectory of the M1 and M2 monetary measures and h