The Bear’s Lair: The revenge of the bond market

“I used to think if there was reincarnation, I wanted to come back as the President or the Pope or a 0.400 baseball hitter. But now I want to come back as the bond market. You can intimidate anybody,” said James Carville at the start of Bill Clinton’s Presidency in 1993. Since that time, the bond market has been in the position of an abused spouse, suffering endless humiliations at the hands of an inept Fed and Treasury Department. In the last few weeks however there have been signs that it was about to reassert itself. Should it do so, it would be immensely salutary – and immensely painful. Continue reading

The Bear’s Lair: The lost Arcadia of 1938

What if the Munich Agreement of 1938 had worked? I was led to this speculation by watching a wonderful British movie “Q Planes” made in that year in which British technology reigned supreme and there was no sign of any Great Depression. (With Laurence Olivier and Ralph Richardson, it’s well worth catching up with!) But would a world without World War II really have been better for all of us, or only for Britain? Continue reading

The Bear’s Lair: We might as well be serfs!

The Federal government’s rental evictions moratorium has now been extended until March 31, and there is every prospect it will be extended further. This yet again weakens the property rights of landlords, eroded steadily since World War II. With shareholders also attacked by the ESG movement and interest rates going negative in many countries, no form of property is exempt from expropriation. We might as well be serfs! Continue reading

The Bear’s Lair: Back the bros against the hedgies

WSB and Dogecoin

“Bros” connecting through the social media forum “WallStreetBets” last week staged a massive rally in the shares of GameStop (NYSE:GME) causing huge losses to a hedge fund that had shorted the stock. Most commentary suggested this should be a rare occurrence, as the hedge fund was a professional investor performing a valuable market function, while the Bros were amateur retail investors. However, in today’s markets, I would bet on amateur investor Bros showing better investment performance than the hedge funds. Continue reading

The Bear’s Lair: Economic icons the Boomers broke

Helen Andrews’ book “Boomers” is a beautifully written indictment of the Boomer generation, similar to Lytton Strachey’s “Eminent Victorians,” by a Millennial social conservative who believes the Boomers broke U.S. social mores. On the economic side, it is also clear that somebody destroyed sound economic thinking but much less clear who did it – Maynard Keynes, after all, was not a Boomer. Continue reading

The Bear’s Lair: The costs and pluses of Bidenomics

President Joe Biden’s economic program is becoming fairly clear and as expected it imposes severe costs on the U.S. economy. There are however also some positive nuggets, which we should welcome and hope to keep for better times ahead. Even with those nuggets, however, the economic outlook is grim, largely because of policies on which all Presidents for the past two decades have been agreed. Continue reading

The Bear’s Lair: Delenda Est Facebook

The Twitter and Facebook bans on President Trump and the Apple, Google and Amazon bans of Parler certainly intensify one’s dislike of those tech sector giants. Yet beyond dislike, there is a question to be answered: is it possible that, despite their astronomical stock market valuations, they may reduce the overall economic value of global output? It is a question well worth pondering. Continue reading

The Bear’s Lair: The costs of consensus

I have just been researching the politics, ideas and economics of the Restoration period. While political differences were enormous and at times lethal – between outright “Leveller” republicans and followers of Sir Robert Filmer’s “Patriarcha” who believed in absolute monarchy — it was scientifically and economically as creative and entrepreneurial a period as Britain has ever known. Conversely, the half-century of one-party Whig rule under the early Georges was one of the utmost intellectual and technological somnolence. The contrast extends to the present day, as I shall endeavor to demonstrate. Continue reading

The Bear’s Lair: The collapse of California

My address book of friends living in California, some of them rich, has in 2020 gone from double digits to zero. Even within the economically doom-ridden United States, California’s outlook is especially grim, with “Bearmageddon” due in five years rather than ten. Yet there is an avenue of escape: the state must be split into autonomous regions, not to flood the U.S. Senate with yet more profligate and foolish Democrat Senators, but to ensure that any individual doom will be relatively small-scale, with other regions of the state avoiding it. Continue reading

The Bear’s Lair: Will the Bear’s Lair see Bearmageddon?

Satan Attacks the Holy CityThe twentieth anniversary of this “Bear’s Lair” column passed in late October. During that period, the stock market has risen, but pretty much every other indicator of U.S. economic health has declined. Actuarially at age 70, I can expect to be writing this column for another 14 years and 3 months (though the column’s coherence may be limited in the last few years of that). Whether this column will cover the final “Bearmageddon” collapse of our economic system is thus uncertain – it will be a damned near-run thing, as the Duke of Wellington said of Waterloo. Continue reading