Milton Friedman’s misfortune…

Milton Friedman’s misfortune is that his economic policies
have been tried.” – John Kenneth Galbraith

Oracle: Oppenheimer’s Meredith Whitney – whose credibility exceeds most Wall Street CEOs – has a litany fit for a Cathedral door: The crisis is less than half over, bank assets are still marked at unworldly levels, capital to rescue brokers is like hen’s teeth, there is no quick fix and probably no slow fix, banks are seeking band-aids, not money to lend, at least 25 large investment firms will need cash infusions soon, Fannie and Freddie are simply larger versions of all the rest. And more… or less.

Watching Wait : A study by Johns Hopkins predicts that “most adults in the U.S. will be overweight or obese by 2030,” which is a definite improvement over the ratios I saw at Wal-Mart today.

Not Certified: As long as Bush and Bernanke can keep labor from asking for more, they can pretend that inflation is ‘under control’. But the dreaded COLA’s are making their way back from 1980’s exile and bringing with them 6% and better inflation.

Under The Bed: Sub-prime defaults seem to be declining, just in time for Pay Option ARMs to crawl out and continue the nightmare. Elsewhere, MBAA reports mortgage apps dropping to a five year low.

Ethanol, explained: “There are 21 farm states, and that’s 42 senators.” Bob Dole.

Wrong Question: A lot of time and blather is being spent trying to figure out what the car of the future will run on. It would be much better spent if we’d admit there isn’t a future car and that our basic assumptions about society and economics need examination.

Paranoia: Since Reagan’s first election, government economic policies have brought us an unbroken string of terrible economic events. Is it possible that they have not been trying to save us, but are intentionally liquidating the country? If so, this is not failure, but an unparalleled success.

Some Assembly Required reflects my somewhat cynical view of the world. Think of it as having coffee with a curmudgeon. Come visit.

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  1. doc holiday

    NICE format dude!

    Anytime I see Bob Dole mentioned I get excited, so thanks, and to see wal-mart mixed in as well, amazing! Then hen’s teeth, those we have not seen since Bear Stearns was bailed out!

  2. Namazu

    Milton Friedman famously recommended that the Federal Reserve be replaced with a computer to gradually increase the money supply. To paraphrase John McEnroe, you CANNOT be Mostly Serious!

  3. Anonymous

    ‘Is it possible that they have not been trying to save us, but are intentionally liquidating the country?’



  4. m

    If you’re “no more accurate than the white house shills,” why the hell should I read you?

    Where’s Yves when you need him…

  5. Anonymous

    It’s pretty disgusting that you’re using Yves’ absence to write a hit-job on Milton Friedman.

    Do you think Friedman advocated the GSE’s? Or the government sponsored ratings agencies? Or ethanol subsidies? Or all of the ridiculous things that have the government’s fingerprints on them that caused this catastrophe?

    If you do then it’s pretty clear you have zero understanding of Friedman’s libertarianism.

  6. Tom

    “If you do then it’s pretty clear you have zero understanding of Friedman’s libertarianism.”

    Trouble is, we do and this is where it brings us.

  7. John Stark

    Liked your comment that “there is no future car.” A lot of people forget that our car society is a recent phenomenon. I’m 58. None of my grandparents ever owned a car. As far as I know, they never even drove one. That’s a future we may be heading back to, no matter what we would prefer.

  8. HC

    “If you do then it’s pretty clear you have zero understanding of Friedman’s libertarianism.”

    “Trouble is, we do and this is where it brings us.”

    What??? You’re going to blame socialist wall street welfare and a CENTRAL bank? What the hell is libertarian about driving interest rates below market level with central bank intervention, creating a socialist, GOVERNMENT SPONSORED ENTITY to subsidize the mortgage market, and then drop fiat money from helicopters across America??

  9. Richard Kline

    Re: the future [of the car] is the past, well in the future only the genuinely rich will own a car, just like only the rich once owned a coach. We may well have personal transport modules, but they won’t be so large, go so fast, and above all they won’t be energy hogs.

    I actually don’t own a car, and I never have. Poverty and cost/benefit, although I do drive and like it. I live in a city center in a region with good public transit. Not having a car very definitely limits me socially, but that is primarily because everyone else has adapted to having a car and devoting a quarter of their income stream to that option. I don’t know whether Iook favorably or unfavorably on the decline of personal transportation, but what we will have going forward, speaking metaphorically, will be different than the recent past.

  10. Yves Smith

    Anon of 2:32 PM,

    While Friedman made important contributions to monetary economics, I am no fan of the Chicago School and have frequently decried Friedman’s libertarian polemics.

  11. Anonymous

    Ah Yves… There you are. You can’t fail to note that, in your absence, the NC comments section has become infested with libertarian intellectual giants. I believe they may be attracted by the fact that you often use big words. Work better than cheese.

    My vote is for a regular guest spot for Cass.

  12. David

    I have to giggle and laugh everytime I hear “Milton Friedman’s” name. For some odd luck my prospective in-laws (to be?) own and live in Rose and Milton’s former summer (camp) in Orford, NH. It’s not a palace by any means and when the Friedman’s had it was barely a tumble down shack with a view of Mt. Cube. Supposedly my ‘in-laws’ lost one of Rose’s paintings in a garage fire.

    The irony is that I have long hated the legacy of the conservative Chicago school, the links with Pinochet of Chile, the downsizing of American industrial jobs, etc. the whole Right Wing tilt that came about with greater Class differences in wealth and more economic insecurity but I have to bend a little and think that there is some sort of humor that such a leftwinger as I (pretending to be perhaps?) might sleep in one of the Friedman’s bedrooms when I visit there.

    They were friendly people from all accounts while John Kenneth G. had a haughtiness greater in scale than even his tall stature (told to me by an associate while they were in India.) The Galbraith’s hung out in summer nearby over in Vermont I am told.

    However dense some of Galbraith’s writing was, I think he had a much firmer understanding of real markets than the simplistic nostrums of Friedman. His “post-industrial market’ ideas are especially understandable in light of the planning that successful corporations need to ‘pre-market’ for success. And govt and industrial planning are needed co-joined. The current meltdown of lack of planning (and regulation) is perhaps due to the Freidman doctrines. Also, I liked Galbraith’s sweet, concise mini-biograph of Keynes he wrote somewhere, proving that he could also write for us more common folk.

  13. Aaron Krowne

    Rothbard once famously said that Friedman’s problem was that he was best know for what he was worst at: monetary theory, rather than what he was best at: public (economic) policy (the non-monetary aspects).

    More towards the end of his life, it looked like Friedman was becoming pretty disillusioned with his own monetarist ideas, at least admitting that it looked impossible to expect a political institution to responsibly manage interest rates/money quantity.

    He was practically Austrian by the end, if a recent essay I read credited to him regarding the true monetary nature of silver was indeed written by him.

  14. Clayton

    I fear we play favorites here. This quote would have been so much more accurate had it instead referred to Keynes… who was so wrong basically every policy he supported has proven economically unviable.

    And to those who hope to argue the success of Fiscal Policy… I point out that we depend on the stupidity of the average American, that they happily spend today what they will have to pay back come tax time. Good thing they don’t realize it!

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