NYTimes: Ron Paul answers your questions, Part 2

Posted on November 20th, 2008 by bile
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/…

First batch here.

Here is the second. Like the first batch, they are well-considered and interesting throughout; they will surely make many readers continue to wish fervently for a Paul presidency.

Thanks again to Rep. Paul for his time and insights, and to all of you for the good questions.

Q: What is the first thing the country should do about its monetary policy?

A: We should immediately audit the Federal Reserve. I am the ranking member of the Monetary Policy subcommittee in the U.S. Congress, yet I can get more information about the internal workings of the C.I.A. than I can about our central bank. This secrecy is fundamentally wrong, and I believe that people from all over the ideological political spectrum can agree on that.

Bloomberg News this month has gone to court compel the Fed to disclose securities the central bank is accepting on behalf of American taxpayers as collateral for trillions of dollars of loans to banks. Expanding transparency is critical and could be done very quickly.

Q: What are your expectations for the next four years under an Obama administration? How might President Obama’s interventionist economic policies impact our lives?

A: Unfortunately, I don’t expect many good things. I do expect a lot of spending and even more debt. To really cut spending and balance our budget, we need to change foreign policy. Obama’s rhetoric on foreign policy is better than what we have gotten recently, but don’t expect any real change.

He may be more likely to wind things down in Iraq, but he’s still planning on keeping troops there for a least 16 more months. He wants money for Georgia and more troops in Afghanistan. He isn’t going to bring home our 30,000 troops from Korea or our 50,000 soldiers in Germany, and he won’t close any of our 700 foreign bases. At the same time, he is planning even bigger spending here at home. I hope I’m wrong, but if this spending and debt continue, the dollar is going to crash and we will see the middle class in this country take a grave hit.

Q: Do you deny global warming? Is Obama right to invest money in green technology? If you don’t deny it, and don’t think Obama is right, what is your solution?

Read More…

Capitalism: increasing food production and destroying the caste system

Posted on August 31st, 2008 by bile
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 2 Comments »

http://www.nytimes.com/…

The fields around this little farming enclave are among the most fertile on earth. But like tens of million of acres of land in this country, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, they literally went to seed.

Now that may be changing. A decade after capitalism transformed Russian industry, an agricultural revolution is stirring the countryside, shaking up village life and sweeping aside the collective farms that resisted earlier reform efforts and remain the dominant form of agriculture.

The change is being driven by soaring global food prices (the price of wheat alone rose 77 percent last year) and a new reform allowing foreigners to own agricultural land. Together, they have created a land rush in rural Russia.

“Where else do you have such an abundance of land?” Samir Suleymanov, the World Bank’s director for Russia, asked in an interview.

As a result, the business of buying and reforming collective farms is suddenly and improbably very profitable, attracting hedge fund managers, Russian oligarchs, Swedish portfolio investors and even a descendant of White Russian émigré nobility.

The average Russian grain yield is 1.85 tons a hectare — compared with 6.36 tons a hectare in the United States and 3.04 in Canada. (A hectare is about two and a half acres.)

Should be noted that when the USSR was the largest exporter of food years ago the United States was sending food aid to it’s people who were starving. In fact, the USSR likely wouldn’t have survived into the 1950′s if it wasn’t for western aid to the fledgling government in the 20′s.

http://www.nytimes.com/…

When Chandra Bhan Prasad visits his ancestral village in these feudal badlands of northern India, he dispenses the following advice to his fellow untouchables: Get rid of your cattle, because the care of animals demands children’s labor. Invest in your children’s education instead of in jewelry or land. Cities are good for Dalit outcastes like us, and so is India’s new capitalism.

Mr. Prasad was born into the Pasi community, once considered untouchable on the ancient Hindu caste order. Today, a chain-smoking, irrepressible didact, he is the rare outcaste columnist in the English language press and a professional provocateur. His latest crusade is to argue that India’s economic liberalization is about to do the unthinkable: destroy the caste system. The last 17 years of new capitalism have already allowed his people, or Dalits, as they call themselves, to “escape hunger and humiliation,” he says, if not residual prejudice.

If you need to login, user/pass: rationalreview/rationalreview

Wholesale annual price inflation highest in 27 years

Posted on August 19th, 2008 by bile
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

http://money.cnn.com/…

In another indication of growing inflation, wholesale prices increased in July to the highest annual rate in 27 years, according to a government report released Tuesday.

The annual Producer Price Index for finished goods rose 9.8% in the 12 months that ended in July.

The jump in wholesale prices is the fastest rate of increase since a 10.4% bump-up in June 1981, according to Joseph Kowal, economist at the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Labor Department also reported that PPI rose 1.2% in July, after increasing 1.8% in June. Analysts polled by Briefing.com had expected an increase of only 0.6%.

The surge in producer prices is in large part due to higher energy prices, said Doug Roberts, chief investment strategist for ChannelCapitalResearch.com.

Crude oil prices doubled in the 12 months through July, but have since fallen nearly 24% from their peak hit last month.

The latest PPI report doesn’t reflect the recent drop in crude prices, but Roberts expects future readings to ease.

“The topline is a bit behind the curve – that will fall in the future,” he said. “Right now, it has not really taken into account the recent decrease in energy prices.”

Core inflation: The so so-called core PPI number, which excludes food and energy prices, rose by 0.7% – more than the 0.2% increase analysts had expected.

The core inflation index is “the more long term rate” because it indicates how much inflation “is seeping into the economy” beyond the volatile energy prices, said Roberts.

The index for finished goods other than foods and energy has advanced by 3.5% in the past year, according to the report.

Food and energy: The indexes that measure producers’ food and energy prices increased in July, but at a more moderate pace than in the previous two months.

Energy prices rose by 3.1%, after a 6.0% jump in energy prices in June and a 4.9% jump in May. In the 12 months through July, prices for finished energy goods have surged 28%.

Food prices rose by only 0.3% in July, after increasing by 1.5% in June and 0.8% in May. In a year-over-year comparison, prices for finished consumer foods have increased by 8.7%, according to the report.

The much more moderate increase in food prices in July compared with June is the one bright spot in the otherwise glum inflation report, according to Roberts.

Even though energy prices in July were still on the rise last month, “if you are seeing the other big component of inflation go down a bit, that could indicate a positive for the future,” he said.

The government reported last week that the the Consumer Price Index jumped by 0.8% in July, which was twice the increase that economists had expected.

And don’t forget that consumer price inflation is at 5.6%. Highest in 17 years. Assuming you can trust the government’s numbers. Which you can’t. So maybe double that.

Fun isn’t it? Thank the Federal Reserve, Congress, Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke.

Europe Rethinks Deadly Ethanol Mandates

Posted on July 7th, 2008 by invisipunk
Tags: , , , , ,

http://www.openmarket.org/2008/07/07/europe-rethinks-deadly-ethanol-mandates/

Since ethanol mandates cause deforestation and skyrocketing food prices, the European Union is now reconsidering its biofuel mandates.  Ethanol subsidies have many bad effects.  They have caused rioting and starvation in many poor countries.  They also have harmed the environment and increased food prices and support for Islamic extremists.

Looks like the market has spoken.

Food prices rising? Some in government want them higher

Posted on May 5th, 2008 by bile
Categories and Tags: Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 6 Comments »

http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/…

Not content with a protected near monopoly of the domestic market, American sugar producers are demanding that Congress make their pot of subsidies and protection even sweeter.

Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, Rep. Colin Peterson (D-Minn.), is pushing language in the latest proposed farm bill that would raise domestic price supports for sugar and mandate that sugar imports be used for ethanol production.

His proposals would virtually lock in an 85 percent share of the U.S. market for domestic sugar beet and cane growers, even though a number of foreign countries can grow sugar more cheaply than most American growers. And by the way, did I mention that Rep. Peterson’s district is among the nation’s top producers of sugar beets?

The Bush administration, to its credit, opposes Peterson’s changes in the farm bill. The sugar industry, of course, loves the idea. A spokesman for the pro-protection American Sugar Alliance told this morning’s Wall Street Journal, “We have an administration that seems more interested in supporting foreign producers, than producers right here in America.”

Notice the sugar industry doesn’t mention American consumers. U.S. agricultural policies should not be about favoring “our” producers over “theirs,” but about advancing such national interests as freedom, prosperity, and a more peaceful world. As we’ve explained in detail at the Center for Trade Policy Studies, the U.S. sugar program favors American sugar producers primarily at the expense of the rest of America. American families pay higher prices at the store, while U.S. producers that use sugar as an input — bakeries, food processors, restaurants, candy makers, etc. — incur higher costs because of our sugar program.

As we read daily in the newspaper about soaring food prices, this Congress is the verge of passing a farm bill designed explicitly to raise domestic food prices.

::sigh::

They cause the high sugar prices in the first place. They cause the high prices of milk. The high prices of wheat and corn and soy beans. They deflate the money and cause prices in general to rise. The people of world and particularly the American public suffers so that the few sugar manufacturers my thrive.

And when the people start to revolt they will ignorantly run to the government to fix the problem not realizing they caused it in the first place.