Year: 2016

The Bear’s Lair: The years of fiscal profligacy

The IMF last week released figures showing that word debt had reached $152 trillion, a record 225% of world GDP. Even though governments’ borrowing costs are ultra-low, budget deficits in the U.S. Britain and Japan are running at extraordinarily high levels, yet all the chatter is about ways to increase them rather than rein them […]

The Bear’s Lair: The holiday from history is over

Some weeks ago, I wrote suggesting that the multi-polar world we are now entering might well be more peaceful than the unipolar world of the 1990s. I still believe that to be the case in the long run, but the problem is that we will need highly capable policymakers in the West to signal to […]

The Bear’s Lair: Japan reaching the end of the road

The Bank of Japan last week capped the yield on Japan Government Bonds at zero, thus allowing it to increase bond purchases beyond the current enormous amount if yields rise. Prime minister Shinzo Abe has begged Britain to minimize the effect of its “Brexit” from the European Union, and has begged the U.S. Congress to […]

The Bear’s Lair: Distant gleam of freedom

Donald Trump’s tax plan, revealed at the Economic Club of New York on September 15, does not add up, as most Presidential candidates’ tax plans don’t. Still, it did contain one provision that is fiscally insignificant but economically enormous: by capping all tax deductions at $100,000 for single filers, $200,000 for married couples, without exceptions, […]

The Bear’s Lair: Back to 1666!

Samuel Pepys kept his money in gold bars and buried it in the back garden when the Great Fire of London threatened his house in 1666. It is generally supposed that the advent of modern banking, by allowing consumers to keep their money in a safe place without charges, has greatly increased the efficiency and […]

The Bear’s Lair: Quit backsliding on Brexit!

Almost three months have passed since the brave British voters voted for an exit from the European Union, yet Britain is no closer to actually exiting. Civil servants have been hired, but no firm timetable has been set for delivering an “Article 50” notice to the EU. Now Britain’s major foreign investors are demanding that […]

The Bear’s Lair: Proxima B could give us a fresh start

The news last week that our closest star, Proxima Centauri, has a planet Proxima B orbiting it that could possibly support life is immensely encouraging. As I have written frequently, our current economic and political arrangements are so bad that eventual collapse seems inevitable. However, like the Pilgrim Fathers, we may have the opportunity to […]

The Bear’s Lair: The Sovietization of the global economy

It was revealed this week that Citigroup’s proprietary trading team is being wound down after the Volcker Rule had excessively restricted it; its head Anna Raytcheva had spent her early years in communist Bulgaria. Moreover, her boss Mark Tsesarsky was brought up in communist Ukraine. That’s not a coincidence; it is highly significant that an […]

The Bear’s Lair: A multipolar world may be safest and best

For a decade now, American foreign policy types have been bemoaning the loss of the “hegemony” that the country appeared to enjoy in the 1990s. They even regret the allegedly stable “bipolar world” of Manichean if “cold” struggle that preceded it. Instead we are now heading into a multi-polar planet. Foreign policy pessimists liken this […]

The Bear’s Lair: 1943 — a road not taken

As I am away this week, I am reprinting a “Classic” Bear’s Lair column, from August 9, 2002 This is an essay in alternate history, to suggest how, had random factors fallen differently, Britain’s history in the gloomy 1945-79 period could have been very different, and perhaps happier. It looks in particular at what might […]