The Bear’s Lair

The Bear’s Lair: The world needs another Geddes Axe

The Geddes Axe, imposed in 1921-22 was a relatively successful attempt by Sir Eric Geddes to cut British public spending – it reduced military spending by 20%, for example. Shortly after World War I, the public’s urge to government economy was still strong enough to inspire an “Anti-Waste Campaign” to which Sir Eric’s efforts were […]

The Bear’s Lair: Into a De-Globalized World

This column has been predicting de-globalization for almost a decade – the June 2010 piece “Back to the Kaiser’s World” was its first example of this theme. Now that the coronavirus has caused everybody else to leap onto this bandwagon, it is worth examining what the new de-globalized world might look like. While it has […]

The Bear’s Lair: The De-Industrial Revolution

Britain got the Industrial Revolution largely because of good policy (deo volente, there is a book in my future about this.) Now those good policies have been reversed. Savings are discouraged, the short-term and financial juggling are benefited over the long-term, industrial enterprise is hampered while sloth is subsidized and surplus capital is seized randomly […]

The Bear’s Lair: Ahriman’s big win will include inflation

The Forces of Evil, human and supernatural, look like doing very well out of the coronavirus epidemic. From the supernatural side, deaths from the disease and the misery from the economic disruption look likely to provide triumphs. From the human side, government budgets are yet more unbalanced, bringing global bankruptcy several years closer and increasing […]

The Bear’s Lair: Time to ban stock repurchases

Boeing (NYSE:BA) and the airlines are currently in negotiations with the Trump administration for a bailout, with taxpayers expected to replace capital that those companies had previously eliminated through stock buybacks. If they get money without being forced through bankruptcy, this will become a pattern in each business cycle because it is so beneficial to […]

The Bear’s Lair: Götter-Boomer-rung

At the end of the 1983 movie “Trading Places,” the Duke brothers’ solid, long-established commodities business has been bankrupted in the orange juice pits by the insider-trading young sleazebags Winthorpe and Valentine, and the Dukes realize to their horror that trading has closed and the screens are dead. “Turn them back on” they cry feebly […]

The Bear’s Lair: Cromwell, Keynes and the Industrial Revolution

Maynard Keynes, as a good left-liberal, was a political admirer of an earlier Cambridge alumnus Oliver Cromwell, and certainly regarded himself as part of the “Roundhead” tradition. Yet it is becoming increasingly apparent that, just as Cromwell’s virtues and policies pointed Britain on the road to the Industrial Revolution, so the vices and profligacies inspired […]

The Bear’s Lair: Welch destroyed Sloan’s Century

Jack Welch, former GE Chairman (1981-2000) who died last week, was named “Manager of the Century” by Fortune magazine in 1999. Twenty years later, we can see clearly that the Manager of the 20th century was not Welch but Alfred P. Sloan, CEO and then Chairman of General Motors (1920-1963). Welch’s main achievement was destroying […]

The Bear’s Lair: A world without Mike Milken

President Donald Trump last week pardoned Mike Milken, the effective originator of the junk bond market, who had been sentenced to 10 years in jail in 1990 for mysterious securities infractions. While I have considerable sympathy for Milken himself (not that he needs it, being worth $3.8 billion) I thought it worth performing the thought-experiment: […]

The Bear’s Lair: Robots don’t threaten weirdos and misfits

The fancy-college-educated left take great satisfaction in proclaiming that robots will soon threaten blue-collar jobs, while skills requiring higher education will be immune from competition driven by artificial intelligence (AI). This is surely incorrect. Robots/AI can in principle reproduce any predictable process, whether mechanical or intellectual. They cannot reproduce unexpected movement, leaps of imagination or […]