The Bear’s Lair: The Strange Death of Silicon Valley Bank

Packard De Luxe Eight 904 Sedan Limousine 1932

Proper bankers drove these – the Packard De Luxe Eight Model 904Source: Lars-Göran Lindgren Sweden

Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) was at first sight a splendid 21st century replica of the 18th century Country Banks that fueled the Industrial Revolution – it was local to Silicon Valley, supremely attuned to the major industry in its locality, and easy for that industry to deal with. So why did it fail? The answer is complex and leads us to a number of reforms that are needed to today’s banking scene. Continue reading

The Bear’s Lair: Corporatism is not Capitalism

The Federal Trade Commission under its fearless leftist chair Lina Khan is proposing to ban non-compete agreements, which prevent employees from working for a competitor for an often lengthy period after their departure and are applied to some 30 million U.S. employees. The usual Chamber of Commerce types and “conservative” journalists have squawked, arguing that Ms. Khan is a hardline Marxist (possibly true) and that she is eating away the very foundations of free market capitalism. Well, I have news for them: partly because of the Fed’s “funny money” policies over the last decade, the U.S. economy is now thoroughly corporatist, not capitalist, and moves like this proposal that free workers from wage serfdom are highly beneficial. Continue reading

The Bear’s Lair: I hate Ike

The reputations of past Presidents are continually being re-evaluated. Woodrow Wilson, a demi-god at the time of the 1944 film “Wilson,” has now been sharply downgraded by both left (for his racism) and right (for his rigid Progressivism and his share in the disastrous Versailles Treaty). Conversely, Harry Truman and Calvin Coolidge have been rehabilitated by history. Another such rehabilitation is being attempted on Dwight Eisenhower, not highly regarded at the time of his departure; I will argue that the rehabilitators are wrong, and that for several reasons he was a thoroughly unsatisfactory President. Continue reading

The Bear’s Lair: A Free Society Looks Unattainable on Earth

The admirable Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R.-Ga.), my favorite Congressperson, this week called for a “national divorce” by which “blue states” and “red states” would separate, thereby allowing the “red states” to form a smaller union of the like-minded: Christian, capitalist and economically vibrant. It’s a lovely idea, but the new Red America, increasingly wealthy yet ideologically alone in the world, would be immediately subject to attack, possibly by direct military action, certainly by massive subversion. Freedom cannot now be established in a universally hostile world; it requires a new home of its own, attainable only through space exploration. Continue reading

The Bear’s Lair: Fund Entitlements by Taxing Charities

President Joe Biden, in his State of the Union address last week, scored a moral victory over the Republicans by accusing them of wanting to cut the Social Security and Medicare entitlement programs, thereby forcing them to deny any such intention. However, the actuarial reality is clear: Medicare will become insolvent around 2027 and Social Security around 2035. New funding will have to be found; I have one suggestion: to abolish the tax deductions and exemptions enjoyed by charities. Continue reading

The Bear’s Lair: McKinley 2024!

In 2016, this column recommended that Americans choose Robert Banks Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool as their President (having been born in 1770, before U.S. independence, he was clearly eligible). Alas, the American people made the mistake of ignoring this recommendation, both in that year and in 2020. This time around, this column has an alternative recommendation: that Americans should choose that quintessential Republican, William McKinley, whose economic and foreign policies would be an enormous improvement on anything we have seen in recent years. Continue reading

The Bear’s Lair: Will we see a Latin American Comecon?

Solano Lopez 1866 by Garcia

What Paraguay Will Need.

News came last week that Brazil and Argentina were discussing forming a common currency. Since Argentina’s inflation in 2022 was 95% while Brazil’s was only around 6%, this is unlikely to work well. However, so many Latin American countries are now run by market-hating leftists that a full-scale attempt at economic integration, to remove the influence of the hated U.S. dollar, must be a possibility. The desired model, of stable prices and wages and controlled trade, would strongly resemble the Soviet Union’s Comecon. Compared to the current messy single-country socialism, it would have some advantages. Continue reading

The Bear’s Lair: The Free Trade Scam

The Davos leaders last week bemoaned increasing protectionism, attacking opponents of globalization as economic illiterates. Yet there seems no reason a priori why trade should be less subject to tax than any other human activity, and with today’s gigantic governments the need for revenue is very real. Free trade benefits some countries much more than others; today, even without extravagant cheating, it is an unnecessary handout to China’s thoroughly unpleasant regime. A balanced polity, global as well as national, is at least somewhat protectionist. Continue reading

The Bear’s Lair: AI offers a vision of Artificial Stupidity

Image of cybernetic dragon attacking woman , orthodox icon style

We learned last week that Microsoft (Nasdaq:MSFT) is investing $10 billion in OpenAI for 75% of its profits, a stake that will drop to 49% when Microsoft has recouped its investment. Since OpenAI’s principal asset has become the artificial intelligence writing software ChatGPT, this indicates the perceived value of AI applications. Yet we have also learned that Amazon (Nasdaq:AMZN) is slashing staff on its Alexa suite of AI products, said to be losing $10 billion annually. Alexa’s downsizing, rather than ChatGPT’s perceived value, points out the flaw in today’s AI: if centralized dreams of control or “woke” social engineering are inserted into the software, the result may be artificial, but it is certainly not intelligent. Continue reading

The Bear’s Lair: WEF Structure Makes It Evil

The World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland opens January 16, and that body’s anti-capitalist maunderings will once again be spread all over the media. However, the WEF’s Marxist/Thunbergist “Great Reset” approach is not simply due to its chief Klaus Schwab having the looks and outlook of Ernst Stavro Blofeld; it is structural. The WEF’s shareholders, funding and constitution generate incentives that lead it away from free-market capitalism towards collectivism, evil, and human despair. I shall explain why. Continue reading