Thursday, December 1, 2011

What Happened to "Amero" Conspiracy Theories?

Ahh, the 'good old days', huh? The roaring sucess of the euro led conspiracy nuts to take seriously the idea that a 'North American Union' (NAU) would soon be confiscating dollars and replacing them with Ameros. Funny how the euro crisis makes it all now sound as silly as it always was, eh?

Thank you, Daniel Carr at Moonlight Mint for still producing Amero fantasy coins. The workmanship is, as always, superb. It's almost too good. Real coins are rarely produced with that much care.

Keep this in mind, folks. About 95%  of the time when the 'mainstream media refuses to talk about' some shadowy conspiracy that 'everyone in the know knows is actually going on', the idea is just some nut's delusional mind working overtime.

There are millions are delusional conspiracy nuts out there. Just tune in late night talk radio. I prefer to think those people are putting me on. It's more reassuring than believing they're so many who are serious about flying saucers and shadow people.

Monday, October 10, 2011

"Occupy Wall Street" Protestors Have a Valid Point

I wish the protestors weren't so dirty looking. It would make them easier to support.

I wish the barons of the financial world weren't so dirty while looking clean. They are economic criminals, plain and simple. They need to be in orange prison coveralls, not Armani suits.

Wall Street used to serve a predominantly valuable purpose with a few rogue operations on the periphery. That status has flip-flopped. It is now a predominantly criminal enterprise with a side operation providing a valuable service.

When did that happen?

When small investors no longer were allowed to "win" long-term. About 10 years ago.

Up until about 2001, small investors were playing a game the reverse of that at a casino. Yes, they could lose, but given enough time and even a little smarts, the investor usually came out ahead. The "house" still made their "vig", but the game was skewed to the player's benefit. Not any more.

About 10 years ago, the "house" changed its expectations. It was no longer enough to collect commissions. They had to participate in the game to an extent never before thought wise. Not only did they play the game, they started changing the rules of the game in ways even they eventually could not fully understand.

Somewhere along the way, the people who "rate" the safety of investments were co-opted by the "house" and convinced to declare "investment grade" that which was utterly worthless, and they should have known it was, too. Worse yet, that worthless junk was created out of nothing by the "house", not any third party, and sold to investors at exhorbitant prices, mostly through mutual funds of one type or another. It was worthless, they knew it, and they took people's hard earned money for it. What part of this is not criminal?

Then, when the whole house of cards collapsed, not only did the "house" not take a hit, they were gievn more of Joe Average's money to bail out the house, and the Federal Reserve kept the money supply growing at a normal rate in normal growth, hence lowering the remaining buying power of Joe Average's remaining assets not taken yet.

Rush Limbaugh, you could not possibly be more wrong on this - you are excusing organized crime in a business suit. Protestors have a fundamental right and a valid gripe in face of a "heads I win, tails the taxpayer loses" rigged game. Everybody wants a deal where profits are private and losses are socialized, but only financiers get that deal.

Yes, there are other unindicted co-conspirators, too, such as Globalization, Environmentalism and the Digital Revolution, three of the most pernicious factors ever in American macroeconomics, since all three displace more economic activity in more places than they create. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but it's the truth. All three make a few massive winners in a few tiny domestic geographical areas, and create incredible numbers of losers almost everywhere else.

But Occupy Wall Street has a point.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

To Some Coin People: Follow Ted Williams' Classic Advice

What advice?

"If you don't think too good, don't think too much."

I truly love most coin people, but I've got to be brutally honest here. Some aren't very smart. Or rather, many are prone to repeat and live by some old bromides their father or grandfather once told them, and ohh, let's just say their own powers of critical analysis aren't all that sharp. Okay?

I have had the pleasure of hearing from one ANA LIfe Member who insists that so long as no one lies about what exactly led to Larry Shepherd's departure, we are entitled to know exactly what is was, because as long as it's true, no one can be sued.

[sigh] I used to be that naive too, once. Not any more.

Courts and legislatures have been slowly but surely moving the goalposts on Human Resources and Employment law in this country to the point that HR pros now have one type of advice to employers - never say anything bad about an ex-employee to anyone. You can't afford the lawsuit.

Truth is no shield. Why else do you think every firing or resignation comes with bland pablum statements involving "take a different direction" or even the classic "spend more time with my family"? We don't get to know the details. Not any more.

It doesn't matter if you pay dues, pay taxes, whatever. Human Resources Law = Shut Up and Maintain Secrecy. High government officals are fired every week. All we hear is they left to seek other opportunities. Yeah, like the opportunity to get paid again because the government stopped paying him, maybe even because a boss didn't like the way he sent an email or how he parted his hair.

It's called "at will" employment. If you don't have a written contract, union or otherwise, or you work in Montana, you have no protection whatsoever. Courts realize this. They know workers are powerless against an employer in a firing scenario. So to partially compensate, they bend over backwards to protect former employees through allowing them to sue for defamation, often even if the charges aired by the employer are true. It's 2011, people. Do try to keep up. This is the one curse of coin people. They tend to be "paleo-thinkers". They want to believe most things never change over centuries or millenia. If only that were true.

Your grandpappy's old bromides once were useful. Not any more. The world has changed. And it's mostly coin collectors that seem to have problems keeping current. It's the same problem that allows them to have collections of Roosevelt dimes or Washington quarters that end in 1964 and they still call them "complete". Not by a longshot, babycakes, not by a mile.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Who Is This Patrick Heller Moron?

Patrick Heller is a Michigan bullion hawker. I refuse to call him a "coin dealer". He regularly spews, whether he is aware of it or not, the John Birch Society "straight party line" on all matters related to economic policy in an attempt to lure the unwary into overpriced bullion purchases. That makes him either a dupe or a moron, IN MY PERSONAL OPINION!

I feel I have half a license to use incendiary language here because incendiary language is Heller's own schtick-in-trade. He can't even discuss a pullback in metals prices without throwing bombs like "...the U.S. and other governments had a huge incentive to suppress gold and silver prices in September and to instill fear in investors...". Are there really adults who believe that's what Presidents and Federal Reserve Chairmen do for kicks? Supress asset prices and intentionally instill fear in markets? Come on, Pat! Go back on your meds, dude, seriously now. They have Thorazine for this, you know?

The guy throws the word "Liberty" around in his company name. It's supposed to instill patriotism, I guess. Well, he's an  "-iot", alright, but the prefix is "id-", not "patr-". When I see "Liberty" being thrown around gratuitously, I see a John Bircher, or a Tea Party type (MOSTLY THE SAME THING). Not great thinkers, either of them.

He is on record predicting $100 an ounce silver by year end. Looking good there, Pat. As I type, it's October 7 at 3:40PM, and the spot bid price is $31.38. Looks like he's gonna need an annualized increase rate of over 1,000% to pull it off, eh? (More than tripled in less than three months.) The only way to turn more than triple your money in 11 weeks is "street corner pharmaceuticals". And people who think metals will go straight up forever are the ones already metaphorically "on crack".

Oh but wait. Pat had no idea how badly Ben and Barack would manipulate the metals markets, right?

Why does keep publishing this charlatan? Oh, yeah, I forgot. He pays them to publish him. It's just more marketing.

Here's the problem. The penumbra of the numismatic field is loaded with these guys. They call themselves "numismatic investment consultants". I call them "snake oil salesmen". They prey on unwary discontented investors looking for a decent low-risk rate of return, and they can't find it in equities, bonds, or real estate. Well guess what. Since silver topped out in late April at $48 an ounce, they aren't finding it there either. Yup, it's soon six months. Buying opportunity, huh? Not a market top, huh? When do we declare at least a short-term top, Pat?

But noooooo. At the very top in late April, Pat was not only predicting it would keep going up, he was predicting the trend would accelerate. Stop preying on angry investors, Pat. And investors, know this. You don't make any money on any asset until you sell it. I sold gold at ANA in August right at the top, and some silver bullion in early September at the very maximum date then, just before it went in the dumper. You have to sell to make a profit. Buying more crap from Heller is making him rich, not you.

Read stuff other than from marketers. Read Commodity Futures Trading Commission reports, for example. The data was right there about HUGE speculator overbuying in the face of producer and industrial consumer short selling, but the bullion marketers WERE the bullish speculators. They couldn't afford to admit what was in black & white - a crash was imminent.

It wasn't manipulation by the evil "gummint", Pat Heller. It was a market behaving as markets do.

Go Away, Former ANA Director, Larry Shepherd!

There is another blogger out there who wants the ANA Board to just shut up!

Sound advice - for recently fired ANA E.D, Larry Shepherd, but not for the Board of Governors. Larry Shepherd was the wrongdoing party here, not the Board. And now Harlan Berk looks like a jerk. Ooh, a rhyme.

Did Larry violate the law?
No, not as near as I can tell.

Did he violate a written policy of the American Numismatic Association?
By reading between the lines, it appears not. The problem is - what he alleged to have done is contrary to almost every personnel policy ever written. As part of the Board's review, they hired a firm to do a personnel policy review. Here is the relevant part of the ANA's initial statement:

"Coinciding with placing Shepherd on leave in August, the board initiated the process for a comprehensive organizational review of management issues and employment matters, and engaged the assistance of Employer’s Resources of Colorado. The human resources consulting firm has identified employment policy deficiencies, and provided recommendations for improving internal
operational practices and positive motivational development as the ANA moves forward."

For those of you who need a translation, here's what that really means:
"Larry told us that we didn't have a policy against what he did, so he's in the clear. We were like, you're kidding, right? So we hired a consulting firm who found out that we really didn't have a policy against it, but we should have. But it doesn't matter, because since Colorado is an "at will" employment state, we don't need to have ANY reason to fire Larry, so we did. Why? Because what he did was just so stinking dumb. Not illegal, not against our old policies, just really stinking dumb - and inappropriate. And besides, the staff was griping a blue streak about Larry at Chicago. We can't very well keep Larry and fire dozens of people who actually make the ANA tick day-to-day, so, hasta la vista, Larry."

Now Larry, and a blogger or two, want to portray the Board of Governors as the bad guy here. Larry seems to be in a fighting mood. Just go the heck away, Larry Shepherd. Just because you're a saint compared to Cippoletti (not a very high bar, really) doesn't mean you're the "second coming". Fact is, Executive Director types are a dime a dozen. Look in any state capitol. You can't swing a dead cat without hitting a dozen people who would make fine ANA Executive Director material. Unless being prone to the osculation of the gluteals of some less than honorable coin dealers is an absolute job requirement, that is. If you need someone who will help the PNG provide cover for coin doctors, then you have to work a little harder to find someone with the requisite amount of ability to "look the other way".

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Prescription for Fiscal Crisis: Import Tariffs

You want to fix the nation's fiscal bind? Impose import tariffs on imports of any goods we still somehow manage to make here.

I just heard on NPR that a Harley-Davidson that is worth $16,000 - $18,000 here costs almost $50,000 in China because of tariffs imposed by the Chinese government. When do we wake up and decide to not be the world's trade patsy any more? Time to get very mean, nasty and dirty in international trade.

After we tariffs goods competing with our domestic industries, next we should tariff any goods which we plan to make here. Time to restore some sanity to international trade, pronto!

Will it hurt U.S. firms dependent on exports? Yes, and so what? They don't employ my neighbors anyway. Boo hoo. I am advocating the interests of American workers trump those of American job exporters. If that makes me a bad person, too bad.