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

The Bear’s Lair: Escape from the zombie economy

According to statistics collected by the Financial Times, the number of zombie companies, those that do not earn enough to service their debts, has increased steadily since 2010. What is more, the probability of those companies remaining “zombie” has also increased steadily. This is not surprising; 25 years of artificially low interest rates and easy money will increase the proportion of zombie companies, whose life would otherwise end in bankruptcy. However, zombification isn’t capitalism, and it will have the same dire long-term effect as other non-capitalisms have historically had. Continue reading

The Bear’s Lair: The Wokenomics approach to monetary policy

In a thousand years’ time, when the economic history of our era is examined by forensic historians, Senator Lamar Alexander (R.-TN) will receive special notice as the tiny catalyst for economic collapse. His rejection of Judy Shelton for the Fed Board of Governors, on the grounds that she is too close to an administration that is presumably leaving office in 37 days, will ensure that there is no voice of sanity in U.S. monetary policy – and that the final implosion of the U.S. economy is thereby rendered unavoidable. For the Fed’s current management, as for Antifa, even small voices of dissent must be silenced. Continue reading

The Bear’s Lair: Are we watching the end of Julian the Apostate?

You don’t need to read all six volumes of Edward Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” – Gore Vidal’s “Julian” will do. From AD 361 to 363 (AUC 1114 to 1116, to use the calendar Julian would undoubtedly have preferred) he was a popular and successful Roman Emperor, attempting to reverse novel elite beliefs that he thought destructive and “Make Rome Great Again.” He was killed unexpectedly, and Rome’s decline followed quickly and inexorably, although the destructive beliefs he opposed survived for millennia. Does the obvious analogy to Donald Trump hold water? Continue reading

The Bear’s Lair: Better abolish colleges, not just college debts

President-probably-elect Joe Biden has confirmed that he intends to introduce a forgiveness program on student debts, perhaps up to $50,000 as Senator Elizabeth Warren (D.MA) has proposed. This is a direct subsidy to the relatively rich, to be paid for by suffering middle-class taxpayers. Rather than forgiving the debts of the relatively rich, let us take an axe to the college system that condemns many of them to insolvency. Continue reading

The Bear’s Lair: Boris would have banned steam engines

British prime minister Boris Johnson announced this week that he would make it illegal to sell petrol or diesel-driven automobiles from 2030, pushing the British into a fleet of electric cars. He proclaimed this would lead to a “green industrial revolution.” Fat chance! If Boris had been around in the 1780s, he would have had equally good “environmental” reasons for banning steam engines – and would thereby have snuffed out the real Industrial Revolution. Continue reading

The Bear’s Lair: The Trump Presidential Library should be HUGE!

As President Trump seems likely to leave office in January, the historically minded of us should reflect on his legacy. In the short-term, maybe until 2200, his reputation will doubtless be smeared. It took 250 years for King Charles II to get his due from historians, and Lord Liverpool, almost 200 years later, still has not received it. After 2200, however, Trump should be seen as a good President and a very consequential one. Even before that date, he deserves the largest and doubtless most visited of Presidential libraries. Continue reading