The Bear’s Lair

The Bear’s Lair: The Age of Pointless Excess

The Financial Times last week gave an account of the new “pencil” tower at 111 West 57th Street that made me glad I am not a billionaire. For one thing, if by inordinate wealth I were compelled to purchase an apartment on the upper floors of that building, the weight of my book collection – […]

The Bear’s Lair: How to Define Conservatism

The well-respected political journalist Matthew Continetti has just published a book “The Right: The Hundred Year War for American Conservatism,” one of many such, which takes the meaning of “Conservatism” as varying from decade to decade, according to the winds of events and popular culture. This seems to me a silly way to go about […]

The Bear’s Lair: Extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of media

There are many factors that make rational economic decision-making difficult. One of them is that the media and educated opinion, mostly wholly ignorant of the laws of economics (or preferring to ignore them) often has violently misguided views on a subject, which it uses its intellectual power and marketplace megaphone to impose. William F. Buckley […]

The Bear’s Lair: What if Trump had won?

The United States and the world as a whole have fallen into a difficult period in the last year, with war in Ukraine, rising inflation and almost certainly a coming recession as interest rates soar. Many blame President Joe Biden for this, but I thought it worth carrying out a thought experiment: what if Donald […]

The Bear’s Lair: Death spirals

The U.S. Consumer Price Index ticked up again this week, to 1.2% in the latest month (15.4% annualized) or 8.5% in the last 12 months, making the 10-year Treasury bond rate at 2.7% even more inadequate to restrain it. As the negative real rate of interest gets more severe, it pushes inflation up further, causing […]

The Bear’s Lair: The search for a well-run country

When I moved from Britain to the United States in 1995, a significant motivator was my search for good government. The British government’s quality had sharply declined after the departure of Margaret Thatcher and seemed likely to get still worse after Tony Blair’s inevitable arrival. Conversely, the Bill Clinton/Newt Gingrich tandem was distinctly hopeful for […]

The Bear’s Lair: The Weimarization of Japan

The Bank of Japan has indicated that it will buy Japan Government bonds in an indefinite amount at a yield of 0.25% — thus refusing to share in the belated tightening policies of other central banks. That is a policy worthy of Rudolf von Havenstein, President of the Reichsbank in the years leading up to […]

The Bear’s Lair: Apocalypse now?

With 35% of the world’s grain supply subject to the disruption of the Russia-Ukraine war, it seems likely that the next six months will see a disruption in global food supplies, in some areas causing famine. If so, that will complete the set of evils supposedly unleashed upon the world by the Four Horsemen of […]

The Bear’s Lair: Ban the bonds!

Standard investment textbooks and advisors mandate that you should have a percentage of bonds in your portfolio, the percentage rising with age (my Vanguard page advises me to have fully 70% of my money in them). Yet bonds offer no upside, they do not protect against inflation, and lawyers working for borrowers have ensured there […]

The Bear’s Lair: Companies are better off without management

Peabody Energy (NYSE:BTU) share price fell 17% last Monday on news it had made $534 million in margin payments, hedging against the price of its main product: coal. Investors may justifiably feel aggrieved; they successfully called a revival of the coal market, only to be thwarted by an amateurish management that thwarted them. Not to […]