The Bear’s Lair

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 […]

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 […]