Year: 2016

The Bear’s Lair: Glass-Steagall solves a problem caused by regulation

In the 1980s and 1990s I favored repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act that separated commercial banking from investment banking. Coming from a merchant banking background, where the distinction was ignored, it seemed a piece of FDR-era nastiness, that had decapitalized the investment banks and greatly worsened the Great Depression. However, the 2008 crash and subsequent […]

The Bear’s Lair: Are bad new ideas better than no new ideas?

Donald Trump is now talking about the U.S. pulling out of the World Trade Organization. Hillary Clinton is talking about instituting a $15 per hour minimum wage. These are clearly both lousy ideas (I’ll explain why.) But given the counterproductive stasis of the world economy currently, are we not better off moving the stasis, and […]

The Bear’s Lair: I have seen the future and it’s stupid

Last week, driving through a nearby suburb, I had to brake sharply to avoid a pallid youth who stepped trance-like into the street without looking at the traffic. I learned from my son that he was probably chasing a purple blob on his cellphone, playing Pokemon Go. This, together with the sad story of the […]

The Bear’s Lair: Some thoughts for Japan’s constitutional changes

Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe appears to have won a supermajority in the Diet’s Upper House, with the Komeito party’s help, enabling him to change the constitution. He has now announced that his first priority, before changing the constitution, will be another $100 billion government spending program. Given the sorry state of the economy, we […]

The Bear’s Lair: Brexit could unshackle Britain from a corpse

When Britain joined the future European Union in 1973, it appeared to be improving its economic outlook by doing so. Certainly when I foolishly voted “Yes” in the 1975 Referendum I thought so. Europe seemed the only bright possibility for the appallingly run United Kingdom, with 25% inflation that year and a Labor government leftist […]

The Bear’s Lair: Markets won’t work in an indexed world

Active stock investing is going increasingly out of fashion, as managers underperform their respective indexes and fiduciaries recommend indexed investment. I understand the rationale for this, but it leaves one massive question hanging: if the vast majority of investment becomes indexed, who is going to do the necessary work of capital allocation? Without that being […]

The Bear’s Lair: Britain’s Overton Window must reopen to Liverpool

Now that the brave British have voted by a small majority to exit the European Union, they need a new philosophy of government. To get one, they must think more broadly, open the Overton Window of permissible discourse beyond the spendthrift Keynesian globalism of the immediate past, the hard-left socialism of Jeremy Corbyn, the social […]

The Bear’s Lair: A Brexit vote could liberate the world

The purely economic costs and benefits of a British vote next Thursday to exit the EU are quite finely balanced. There are undoubted advantages to membership of a large free trade area, which it will be a pity to lose. While the EU leaders are pushing the union in a direction Britain does not and […]

The Bear’s Lair: Will the 21st Century resemble the 16th?

According to global purchasing power parity GDP data developed by Angus Maddison and others, the 16th and 17th centuries were the last so far of very slow GDP growth per capita, with the century 1550-1650 probably showing a slight decline in living standards. When Maddison produced his estimates in 2004, it appeared that those days […]

The Bear’s Lair: The world needs a Maytag cellphone

Moore’s Law is responsible for many of the defects in today’s quality of life. Whereas a typical U.S.1950s appliance – say, a Maytag washing machine — lasted for 30 or 40 years without major repairs, modern electronic gadgetry is lucky if it survives intact until its third birthday. With Moore’s Law slowing gently to a […]