A New Gold Standard?

This occurred to me last year, but I didn’t write anything about it because it’s the sort of thing about which I don’t know enough to have an intelligent opinion.  The question is this:  If people around the world buy and sell gold and quote its price in paper currency, how different is this from a de facto gold standard?  Now along comes Dr. Marc Faber and says,

“I think we already have now a gold standard . . . created by the market place.”

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Accidental Consolations

ConsolationsWe have previously lamented what we lose when we forsake the serendipity of browsing a newspaper or magazine for the stultifying predictability of those custom-tailored electronic round-ups that tell us only what we want to hear.  But I was reminded of this point in a somewhat surprising situation recently when I read a book by mistake, and found out I liked it.

How, exactly, does one read a book by mistake?  Read the rest of this entry »

Rival Histories of the Great Depression

Whatever one thinks about history repeating itself generally, the case for repetition is pretty strong in economics because economic activity is by its nature cyclical.  Yes, times change, and no two business cycles are ever exactly alike, but there are certainly recurring patterns and it makes great sense to try to understand what worked and what didn’t in past cycles.

Ever since late September, it has been difficult to discuss the economy in much depth without encountering simmering controversies about what did an did not work during the Great Depression.  But there is a problem.  Read the rest of this entry »

Ron Paul, “The Revolution: A Manifesto”

Last winter, when I donated to Ron Paul’s presidential campaign, I made the mistake of buying a Ron Paul sweatshirt but no Ron Paul T-shirt. I do not remember whether that was simple inadvertence on my part or whether it reflected a conscious prediction that Dr. Paul would likely be irrelevant by the time it was too warm for the sweatshirt. Either way, it was a mistake, because Ron Paul’s role in the presidential election is today very much the same as it was back in January. He is a man who will not be president, but who will not stop asking some of the most important questions about the course our nation is on. It is perhaps no coincidence that he also provides the most philosophically coherent package of answers. Read the rest of this entry »

“The luck of the Remens.”

In case anyone is feeling disappointed about bets not made on Saturday, the following story may help. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Book Reviews, Failure of Imagination. Tags: , . Comments Off on “The luck of the Remens.”

On Liberty and Security

A great deal has been written in the last few years about the extent to which we can or should trade liberty for security. Precisely because so much has been written, it may seem unlikely that anything new can be said now. But in a recent book review, Jeremy Waldron describes the nature of the tradeoff with a clarity that struck me as unprecedented. Although his observations seem obvious in retrospect, I have not seen anyone make them before, which suggests to me that perhaps they only seem obvious because they are so keen. Read the rest of this entry »

Catching up with the New York Review of Books

I spent a lot of time on my back this week due to a freak dog-washing injury. But I’m a silver-lining kind of guy, so instead of writing about the stabbing pain I’m writing about the fact that I got to catch up — a bit — on a few unread issues of the New York Review of Books, which always seems to give me so much to think about.

From the September 27 issue, I enjoyed Christopher Jencks’s review of Pat Buchanan’s State of Emergency, a book we also discussed on this blog a few months back, and also Janet Malcolm’s article “Pandora’s Click,” an uncharacteristically brief review that provides a timely reminder about the perils of e-mail and that medium’s own special contribution to our incivility. I also finally got around to reading the piece Jim Walsh recommended in the October 11 issue, Bill McKibben’s review of four books on climate change.  But what really held my attention in the October 11 issue was this fascinating excerpt from Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.’s journals of 1966 and 1967.

It’s called “The Turning Point,” and it’s all about LBJ’s fateful decision to escalate rather than withdraw from Vietnam. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Book Reviews, Bush Presidency, Civility, Failure of Imagination, Foreign Policy, History, Iraq, Politics. Comments Off on Catching up with the New York Review of Books