The Bear’s Lair

The Bear’s Lair: Getting to Brexit in a naughty world

As I write, the key vote on Theresa May’s quasi-Brexit deal with the EU is set for January 15. This column has previously advocated voting for May’s deal on the grounds that it offers the most certain progress towards Brexit, but the European Commission has booby-trapped it, so that there is a chance of Britain […]

The Bear’s Lair: Heaven preserve us from a flat world!

Thomas Friedman’s 2005 best-seller “The world is flat” asserted that we were moving inexorably towards globalization and that barriers to trade and people movement were disappearing, as would many aspects of sovereignty. It is now clear that this process produces a political reaction, in which ordinary people protest vehemently against the flattening of their planet. […]

The Bear’s Lair: Looking forward to Dow 11,000

It has been a bad December for the stock markets, but pundits across the land are predicting a recovery in the new year from this terrible drop. Short-term market fluctuations are unpredictable, but the reality remains: owing to decades of funny money the market has got far ahead of its equilibrium value, which is now […]

The Bear’s Lair: No, Mr. President, there isn’t a Santa Claus

President Trump’s economic policies are mostly very sensible, yet in two areas he has indulged in wishful thinking, proclaiming essentially that Santa Claus will bail out the United States. One is fiscal policy, where he has not restrained spending nor produced any plan beyond faster economic growth to solve the nation’s yawning budget deficit. The […]

The Bear’s Lair: The madness of cities

Charles Mackay’s 1841 masterpiece asserted that the “madness of crowds” created “extraordinary popular delusions” that led to investment bubbles and crashes. Recent events suggest that when those crowds congregate in cities, rationality flies out of the window, and delusions infect the entire urban body politic. Rationalists, dwelling in leafy suburbs or deep in rural hideaways, […]

The Bear’s Lair: Central banks must be rule-bound, not independent

Retiring Senator Jeff Flake (R.-AZ), apparently concerned about President Donald Trump’s influence in all areas, wants legislation to make the Fed truly independent – of Congress as well as the President, presumably. However, independent central bankers like Ben Bernanke and Mark Carney have been responsible for most of the truly lousy monetary policy of the […]

The Bear’s Lair: Thank God for President Trump!

This column has on a number of occasions been critical of President Donald Trump; his views on interest rates are especially unenlightened. Yet in two crucial areas, where corporate interests and the intelligentsia had spread a deep fog of deliberate lies to smother intelligent global discourse, Trump has acted as a mighty wind of clarity […]

The Bear’s Lair: Hasta la vista, Ulster!

The border between Northern and Southern Ireland has become the most important factor preventing a clean exit for Britain from the European Union. Yet British statesmen sacrificing the needs of the entire country to fulfil a 1998 commitment of the odious Tony Blair are omitting one consideration: even if Britain sacrifices everything to keep Northern […]

The Bear’s Lair: The share repurchase bubble

A year ago, I wrote about the worrying increase in leverage among America’s blue chips caused by share repurchases (“Hollowed-out blue chips are the next subprime”, November 13, 2017). Today I wanted to return to the subject, because the travails of GE (NYSE:GE) are a reliable advance signal of the trouble ahead for the large […]

The Bear’s Lair: The eleventh day of the eleventh month

Yesterday was the 100th anniversary of the Armistice that ended the world’s greatest avoidable tragedy, the Great War of 1914-18. In terms of human welfare, we would all have been immensely better off if that war had never been fought, with the benefits extending through the intervening decades even to today. Economically, however, the scale […]