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The Hidden Costs Behind Every Government Program

Authored by Gor Mkrtchian via The Mises Institute, When the state constructs a new bike lane, school, or begins a new space mission, the natural inclination of the majority is to cheer this new endeavor as progressive. We possess one new structure or have accomplished one new task than before; society has moved forward, the thinking goes. The state is responsible for truly technically impressive or beautiful accomplishments like the Apollo missions, the Moscow Metro, the Palace of Versailles, etc. that most would agree clearly produce benefits for society. Confronted with these concrete and widely celebrated examples of government accomplishments, how can libertarians deny that state action is sometimes a benevolent force in society? Opportunity Cost Leaving aside moral considerations and focusing on utilitarian considerations, the answer revolves around opportunity cost and demonstrated preference. Opportunity cost is the benefits that could have been obtained through the best forgone alternative to an actual employment of resources. If a slice of pizza costs two dollars, and a hamburger costs two dollars, then the opportunity cost of a slice of pizza is a hamburger, and visa-versa. The resources of any given country are scarce, and the “economic question” that must be solved is, how should the limited resources available be applied to best satisfy people’s subjective preferences? Even if, for example, the state builds a library that is beautiful, the books are...

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Appeals Judge Found Shot Dead In Wooded Area Behind Home

A Georgia appeals judge was found shot dead on Saturday in a wooded area behind his Albany home, however officials do not believe it was a homicide, according to the Associated Press (via the Washington Times).  60-year-old Judge Stephen Goss served as a Superior Court judge in Albany for approximately 20 years, after which then-Gov. Nathan Deal appointed him to serve as a judge on the Georgia Court of Appeals in August 2018.  Goss brought “dignity and compassion to the delivery of justice all across this great state,” said Chief Justice Harold D. Melton, who noted that he was known nationally for his work on substance abuse and mental health treatment programs.  “His legacy is as great as our sense of loss,” added Melton. “Our court and this state’s judiciary express our profound condolences to the Goss family.” Gov. Brian Kemp offered his support to the Goss family. “A native Georgian, trusted counsel, and man of integrity, Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Goss will be sorely missed by countless people across our state and nation,” Kemp said in a tweet. “The Kemp family asks God to give comfort to his loved ones, friends, and colleagues in this difficult time.” In 2002, Goss founded Georgia’s first felony mental health court and substance abuse treatment program in Dougherty County. It was one of the early programs of its kind in the country, according to his online bio. The...

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Turkish Lira Flash Crashes, Plummets 15% In Seconds

Update: as fast as it came, the lira flash crash is over, with the currency trading down just 1.5% vs the dollar, surging from a flash crash of 15% just a few minutes earlier. However, with all pre-existing longs now stopped out, we expect that the kneejerk rebound will fade shortly and the currency will resume drifting lower. That said, for those who bought at the lows, congratulations. * * * The Sunday session already had a flash crashy feel to it, when the first casualty as said “feel” became reality was the Turkish Lira, which suddenly snapped, plunging as much as 15% (yes, fifteen percent) against the dollar in a matter of seconds, tumbling to the lowest level since August 2018. There was no news – besides the already tense sentiment that had ravaged trader nerves on Sunday afternoon and dragged futures sharply lower – so it was either a fat finger or a macro fund getting stopped out at a huge loss. One possible reason for the lira weakness: China, which we learned recently, had been supporting Turkish reserves with $1BN in swaps, may will no longer backstop the NATO member. However, that is pure speculation and the reason may simply be Mrs Watanabe, whose stops have a legendary ability of getting steamrolled every time there is macro tremors. More if we see it, but for now...

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Irony: US-Appointed “Democratic President” Of Venezuela Threatens To Boycott Early Elections

Via 21st Century Wire, As with most things about US foreign policy today, the irony of this situation is just too much to bear. After Juan Guaidó, the self-styled ‘democratic president’ of Venezuela, declared himself to be Venezuela’s rightful ruler on January 23, 2019, he was quickly recognised by Washington DC and then dutifully by those nations subservient to US foreign policy dictates. For weeks, opposition ringleaders and pro-US mobs celebrated, believing that by some miraculous sequence of events – that the Maduro “regime” would fall within days. Seven months later, Nicholas Maduro is still in power, and the Guaidó mobs have dissipated. What’s worse, Washington’s “interim leader” Guaidó is now instructing his opposition followers notto participate in the upcoming legislative elections. In other words, he and Washington are shunning democracy altogether in Venezuela. Antiwar.com reports… In an interview on Friday, Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido announced that he and the rest of the opposition would refuse to participate in any early legislative electionscalled by the Maduro government. Maduro allies have suggested they’d like to hold an election for the National Assembly in January or earlier. The parliament’s term is officially set to end in December of 2020, and elections would normally be held a few months before that. Guaido is the majority leader in the National Assembly, and has used that position to declare himself the rightful ruler of Venezuela. Guaido says the assembly...

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China’s Patience Runs Out As Beijing Signals It Has “Responsibility To Intervene” In Hong Kong

There was a distinct sense of foreboding that the Hong Kong situation is about to take a far worse turn for the worse during this weekend protest, the 12th in a row, which saw the HK police deploy water cannon on protesters, while three police officers who were allegedly chased and beaten by a mob of club-wielding protesters, pulled their revolvers, with one firing at least one warning shot toward the sky. Police officers point their guns at anti-government protesters in Tsuen Wan on Sunday. It was the first time a gun had been discharged since the protests triggered by the now-shelved extradition bill began almost three months ago. However, it won’t be the last, and to make sure it is positioned properly when the real shooting begins, China sent the strongest warning yet of using troops on Hong Kong’s streets where Beijing says protests have turned into a “Color Revolution,” a clear indication that China’s patience with Hong Kong’s insurrection has just about ran out. “It’s not only China central government’s authority but also its responsibility to intervene when riots take place in Hong Kong,” the state-run Xinhua News Agency said Sunday in a commentary which was meant to prepare the local population for the inevitable intervention as it recalled comments by former top leader Deng Xiaoping saying Beijing has to act under such circumstances. In Sunday’s commentary,...

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When State Governors Tried To Take Back Control Of The National Guard

Authored by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute, A West Virginia state lawmaker plans to re-introduce a bill next session that would require Congress declare war or call forth the state militia before the West Virginia National Guard could be released from state control and sent into combat. Currently, as The Intelligencer (of Wheeling) puts it: “the authority to activate the Guard rests with West Virginia’s governor.” But this doesn’t quite describe the reality. State governors are expected to send state National Guard troops wherever and whenever the Pentagon orders. So, in recent decades, whenever states or governors have attempted to have some say over what the Pentagon does with state troops, the Department of Defense has responded with threats. For example, in the case of McGeehan’s bill: Leaders with the West Virginia National Guard opposed the “Protect the Guard” measure, and said it could have cost the state millions as military missions would have been deferred to other states if the measure had been enacted. According to McGeehan, “After the success on Monday, the Adjutant General of the West Virginia National Guard (James Hoyer) — along with the military brass at the Pentagon — aggressively worked behind the scenes to kill the bill,” The Pentagon threatened to withdraw both federal military spending and materiel from the state, with a National Guard spokesman saying: If enacted, the (U.S. Department of Defense) couldn’t count on us to...

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Trump Says He Regrets Escalating Trade War With China, White House Immediately Retracts

While one may accuse the US president of many things, having second thoughts is hardly one of them: once Trump has decided on a course of action, he tends to follow through. Which is why the global press gasped when a rare case of doubt emerged this morning during Trump’s breakfast meeting with the UK’s Boris Johnson at the Biarritz G-7, when the US president acknowledged having second thoughts about the escalating the trade war with China… only for his top spokeswoman to later retract and say Trump meant he regretted not raising tariffs even more. During his meeting with Johnson on Sunday at the G7 in France, the US president raised eyebrows when he responded in the affirmative to questions from reporters on whether he had any second thoughts about the tariff move. Trump was asked if he had second thoughts about his latest escalation. “Yeah, sure. Why not?” Trump answered. The reporter repeated the question and Trump replied: “Might as well. Might as well.” A second reporter followed up again, asking if he had second thoughts about escalating the trade war with China. “I have second thoughts about everything,” Trump responded very clearly in the affirmative. Trump and BoJo (right). Trump’s odd admission was a problem because as Goldman said on Friday, it was Trump’s decision to delay tariffs that was interpreted as weakness by China, leading...

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Morgan Stanley: Don’t Hold Your Breath For Fiscal Stimulus

Authored by Chetan Ahya, chief economist and global head of economics This past week, media reports have indicated that China, Germany and the US could be considering new fiscal stimulus measures. China may raise local government bond issuance to accelerate infrastructure spending, Germany is possibly considering steps to potentially run a budget deficit for the first time in years, and the US may be weighing up a payroll tax cut. Structural and cyclical challenges argue for fiscal policy action It’s clear that monetary easing won’t be enough to reverse the deteriorating outlook for global growth. Structurally, weaker demographics, elevated debt and disinflationary pressures (our ‘3D challenge’) are exerting a drag. Declining natural interest rates have meant that monetary policy by itself will not be enough to stimulate aggregate demand and lift inflation expectations. Over the last ten years, the GDP deflator in developed economies has averaged just 1.2%, well below the central banks’ 2% goal. Cyclical developments have made matters worse. Trade policy uncertainty is pushing global growth to a post-crisis low. Slower growth has sharpened the focus on liquidity trap challenges – long-standing in Europe and Japan – and is raising questions about the effectiveness of monetary easing. Case in point: the G4 policy rate is 0.9%, and the corresponding 10-year government bond yield is 0.5%. We’ve been arguing that monetary policy support can’t drive a recovery as...

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Is Amazon’s Surveillance Machine Secretly Infiltrating Police Departments?

Authored by Eta Onrish via The Organic Prepper blog, Big Tech has come under fire quite consistently for privacy concerns and has even faced big fines for violations (which they can afford). It seems that public attention on this matter has forced them to start going underground, with secret back-end deals with the government at local levels to expand their surveillance capabilities. If you haven’t heard, there is a very useful doorbell camera called Ring. Ring started out as a product called, Doorbot, on the Shark Tank TV show but was rejected. The owners got immediate exposure and millions of dollars from investors after the show, changing the name from Doorbot to Ring. Fast forward five years, and Amazon decides to compete with Google’s friendly surveillance system called Nest, and buys Ring for A Billion Freaking Dollars. Using Ring to expand a surveillance network Ok, so what? It’s a very useful thing to be able to see who’s at the door and have a record of someone breaking into your home. The systems, in themselves, aren’t an issue. It’s when governments start to get involved and big money starts being made that conflicts of interest can lead to misuse and violations of privacy. It’s these very expansions outside of the homeowner’s benefit that need scrutiny. In addition to the actual doorbell surveillance camera itself, Ring/Amazon added a handy online app called, Neighbors, to use these systems to...

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Offshore Yuan Crashes To New Record Low, Tests PBOC ‘Peg’ Band

In early Asia trading, offshore yuan has extended Friday’s collapse, testing the lower edge of the PBOC’s Yuan trading band once again. Yuan traded as weak as 7.1925 against the USDollar… Source: Bloomberg Pressuring the weaker end of the Yuan peg band… Source: Bloomberg At the same time, USDJPY is tumbling (Yen strength), testing the lows of the flash-crash from early January… Source: Bloomberg Turmoil is coming.  ...

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