The Bear’s Lair

The Bear’s Lair: Good riddance to globalization

President Vladimir Putin’s catastrophic blunder in invading Ukraine has upset the applecart of the post-1991 international order. The outcome of that conflict is currently unknown – there are a wide range of possibilities. However, most of the better outcomes will result in an end to the globalization dream – in reality, nightmare – and a […]

The Bear’s Lair: The ever-more blurred line between free and unfree

Like any good child of the Cold War era, I was brought up to believe there were white hats and black hats: democratic countries that respected freedoms, even though one might disagree with particular governments, and non-democratic countries, at that time mostly Communist but historically also Fascist, who violated human rights and individual freedoms with […]

The Bear’s Lair: Charles II’s Platinum Jubilee

Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, celebrating 70 years on the throne, set me to wondering in what ways history would have changed if one of her predecessors had reigned for 70 years. Modern constitutional monarchs have little historical effect, with one exception which I will deal with below, while most of their predecessors, who ascended […]

The Bear’s Lair: The economics of subverting democracy

Portugal’s Socialists recently won an unexpected victory after gaining access to €45 billion in Covid recovery funds – magic doors opened for the party favored by Brussels’ bureaucrats. In Italy, Mario Draghi’s socialist government is propped up by €200 billion in Covid recovery funds, as the years drag on without free elections. This is an […]

The Bear’s Lair: Becoming more Confucian

Eamonn Fingleton, in The American Conservative, recently wrote a piece “The Confucian Model” about East Asian economies, the analysis in which I thought made sense. However, I disagreed with his conclusion, that, now that this “Confucian” model has been invented, authoritarian societies have a built-in economic advantage over democracies. To me, the benefits of “Confucianism” […]

The Bear’s Lair: Coal – wonder-fuel of the future!

In November and December 2021, China’s coal consumption rose to record levels, well over half the world’s total. That enabled China to record a 8.1% growth rate in 2021, by far the highest of any major economy. It also coincided with the COP-26 climate change conference, in which Western governments unanimously promised to sacrifice the […]

The Bear’s Lair: De-financializing the global economy

Since 1980, the global economy has become increasingly financialized – by all measures, the ratio of debt to GDP has steadily increased. If something cannot go on forever, it will reverse, and there are two ways in which this might do so. One way is the global kumbaya of a debt jubilee, which would collapse […]

The Bear’s Lair: Canals, not steam catalyzed the Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution is traditionally held to have begun in the middle 1780s with James Watt’s invention of the rotary steam engine with condenser attached. (The condenser alone did not allow Watt’s engine to power machinery, since it still used the jerky Newcomen “beam” motion.) Yet there was another innovation, almost 20 years earlier, which […]

The Bear’s Lair: Public opinion’s leftward ratchet

In 1970, Venezuela was a little richer than Chile — $1,014 nominal dollars per capita versus $933! on World Bank figures. Both were corrupt social democrat countries with poor management and bloated government. Fifty years later in 2020, Venezuela, which continued and worsened its socialism, had a GDP per capita of only $1,691 nominal dollars […]