Year: 2021

The Bear’s Lair: Regulators — killing new industries since 1831!

This column has not written enough about the economic damage done by excessive regulation, partly because most of that damage takes the form of new businesses snuffed out. Something that has been eliminated from existence is by definition difficult to write about. However, in my Industrial Revolution researches I have found an example of regulation […]

The Bear’s Lair: The first retrograde century since the 14th

Judging by its first 21 years and the prospects therefrom, there is a good sporting chance that the 21st century will be a grim one for most people. Since at least mediaeval times, each century has been an improvement on the previous one, for ordinary people living through it. Incomes have risen, technology has made […]

The Bear’s Lair: A property franchise makes sense

This column is increasingly convinced that economic policy peaked in quality some 200 years ago, to give us the Industrial Revolution. Contrary to Whig historians’ fantasy, the government that produced that policy was elected on a relatively broad franchise, of property-holders possessing a “40-shilling freehold” – a fairly low requirement. While returning to such a […]

The Bear’s Lair: Socialism wrecked the BRICs

As the celebratory editorials note, it is now 20 years since Goldman Sachs’ Jim O’Neill propounded the concept of the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and proclaimed that the four emerging market economies would outgrow massively the major Western states and become a dominant factor in the world economy. The idea was naively optimistic, […]

The Bear’s Lair: Financial engineering fuels U.S. weakness

The sale to a Chinese company in 2016 of one of the world’s largest cobalt sources, controlled by a U.S. company Freeport McMoran (NYSE:FCX), is emblematic of U.S. national weakness, “wokeness” and decline. However, one underlying cause of that sale was the blizzard of stock buybacks and unsound acquisitions made by FCX in the years […]

The Bear’s Lair: Suppose Al Smith had won in 1928

Looking back on past critical elections, those readers generally agreeing with this column will have a number of “turning point” elections in which they could wish the more “conservative” candidate had won, although our definitions of “conservative” may differ. In one case, however, one could wish that the more liberal (in the American sense) candidate […]

The Bear’s Lair: We have passed Peak Productivity

The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced last week that U.S. non-farm business sector productivity unexpectedly fell 5.0% in the third quarter of 2021 and was 0.5% lower than its level in the third quarter of 2020. This returns the U.S. economy to a pattern of ultra-low productivity growth that first became evident in the Obama […]

The Bear’s Lair: Will the Metaverse kill civilization?

Facebook chairman Mark Zuckerberg announced last week that he was changing the company’s name to Meta, because he believed that the “Metaverse” of virtual reality would become the company’s most important business in the future. Whether Zuckerberg or someone else succeeds in creating a convincing Metaverse, it seems to me a wholly negative development for […]

The Bear’s Lair: Invest away from the billionaires

The Biden administration and its allies in Congress are now considering a “billionaires’ tax” on the unrealized capital gains of billionaires’ stock holdings. Nothing is so well designed to collapse the whole house of asset-bubble cards, as the billionaires re-direct their investment towards areas that are not caught by this impost. It therefore seems worthwhile […]

The Bear’s Lair: Facilis Descensus Averno

“The gates of Hell are open night and day Smooth the descent, and easy is the way: But to return, and view the cheerful skies In this the task and mighty labor lies.” Book VI of Virgil’s Aeneid, translated by John Dryden, published in 1697 when poetry was poetry, is a useful window on China’s […]