"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up."

Arthur Koestler 


Cause and Effect

I Pity the Fool that Expects QE to Work! Studies show that if you exercise you are healthier. Or do they? While there is a relationship, what is that relationship? If you feel better, you are more active. So is the true relationship between exercise and health that healthy people exercise? These types of studies are not as helpful as one would like.

Stockman, in his book the Great Deformation, points out just such an issue with regard to the Great Depression. Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman made his reputation on his theory of the Great Depression. The current Fed chairman, Ben Bernanke, was Friedman's acolyte. The theory is that the Great Depression was caused by the Fed letting the money supply drop. But was the Great Depression caused by a dropping money supply, or was the drop in the money supply caused by the Great Depression?

Bernanke, or his probable successor Janet Yeltin, will not allow the money supply to drop. In fact Yeltin, or so the rumors say, is even more of an easy money type than Bernanke. What will she do in 5 years when it becomes clear that Quantitative Easing isn't going to work? This answer to this question is why those that believe in inflation believe in inflation. The cure may be worse than the disease.

As I am guardedly pessimist, I still hope for a trifecta—spending reductions, tax increases, and lots of easy money. I hope I am wrong and this is just a normal recession. We will know in 3 to 7 years.


Shaving Cream

This may be the most important thing I have ever posted for men ...

Or, Maybe not 


Diet Fad Debunkers

Just because it is on Youtube does not mean it is any good. Here is a good example of really bad information, packaged in the guise of common sense. 

I see two possibilities. Either the doctor here has not actually read anything about gluten and the Paleo Diet, or he is lying. There really is no other option. (I suppose he could have misspoken.) Most people who are gluten sensitive or allergic do not quit eating bread. Instead they eat gluten free products like rice bread. The doctor does not seem to be concerned about gluten at all. He knows that only 1% of the population is allergic to gluten so why worry? However 80% of the people who have gluten allergy, or to use the more precise term, celiac disease, are not diagnosed. This is an issue for concern, it is a life threatening illness. 

No one knows the precise numbers, but it is estimated that 1% of the population is allergic to wheat, barley, and rye. A recent middle schooler’s science fair project showed a 4% rate among children. Since the symptoms of celiac disease can be described as ADHD, you think that this would be of interest. I guess not? 

In addition some people are sensitive to gluten. Once again no one knows the number, but the rate is much higher. About 30% of the US population has the gene for gluten sensitivity, so the number could be quite high. I have seen estimates from 3 to 10 percent of the populace. Most have no symptoms. 

I had none. Yes, I was diagnosed with Gluten Sensitivity with a recent blood test. I am not sure exactly what I will do, but I will certainly eliminate my wheat consumption. I had rice bread this morning—not my favorite. Since I am sensitive—not allergic or have celiac disease, I may not be too concerned with the fact gluten is in a huge number of traditional food products as an additive. 

This leads to the Paleo Diet. The basic premise of this is that one should eat what our pre-agricultural ancestors ate. Since grains were not a significant part of that diet, most Paleo eaters do not eat them. They correctly point out that gluten issues are horribly under-diagnosed. They also point out that 3/4 of the world's population do not handle milk well. So that is "forbidden" too. 

No, the doctor is wrong, meat can be cooked by Paleo eaters. While raw meat Paleo people must exist as the world is wide, I have never read or seen a presentation by one. The Paleo emphasis is on cooked grass fed meat as our modern food system, meat especially, is not conducive to health. 

But there are a number of issues with a Paleo Diet. The most important one is that it is impossible to eat a diet like our hunter-gatherer ancestors without becoming a hunter-gatherer. Vegetables, for example, are very, very different. What Paleo believers try to do is mimic the diet as much as they can. 

So today I will offer a final video that critiques the Paleo diet. This presentation is well done and points out some of the assumptions of the Paleo Diet that may not be true. This video was pointed put to me by a Paleo eater, so it shows the rather large variation among those that practice this type of eating. 

My own personal philosophy about anything like this is to look at the whole situation, and then do the best you can. 


Get Out the Tin Foil Hats

Matt Taibbi has written some interesting articles about finance in recent years. Here is the beginning of one such article

Conspiracy theorists of the world, believers in the hidden hands of the Rothschilds and the Masons and the Illuminati, we skeptics owe you an apology. You were right. The players may be a little different, but your basic premise is correct: The world is a rigged game. We found this out in recent months, when a series of related corruption stories spilled out of the financial sector, suggesting the world's largest banks may be fixing the prices of, well, just about everything. 

This is pretty much what I have been saying—the whole market is rigged. In an earlier article I suggested various pre-investments one could make. If the whole market is rigged, how is any investment possible? You can speculate, but you cannot invest

What in particular does Taibbi suggest has been rigged? Libor (the interest rates paid in London), and interest-rate swaps (a form of derivatives) are easily-proved examples. 

Another example was the recent drop in gold prices. While gold was due for a correction, someone suddenly dropping 400 tons of gold on the market was bound to affect the price. Using money borrowed at near zero interest rate, 95% of the sale was borrowed. This amount is about 1/6 of all yearly production around the world. 

This sale forced others who had borrowed money to buy gold to sell their gold to meet a margin call. If one borrows 95% of a purchase, and the price drops 5%, the investor either has to come up with more money or sell. More gold on the market meant prices had to drop. The fact this gold did not exist did not matter. This cascade continued for some time. 

Minion of the Grand PoobahThere was an unexpected side effect. Gold and silver were in effect on sale. Retail investors all over the world rushed to buy real gold in coins or bullion form. There is now a shortage of physical gold and silver. As I write this blog post, gold is now headed back up. 

Was this a conspiracy? In one sense yes, in another no—but it is definitely market manipulation. 

Adam Smith suggested in 1776 that if businessmen get together, prices will be fixed. So in that sense these market manipulations are a conspiracy. But no, the businessmen do not get at lodge meetings and take orders from the Grand Poobah.

So get out the tin foil hats, the markets are manipulated. 


Can You See Clearly Now?