Money

A Few Disastrous Examples of Government Overspending

“History is the most humbling of subjects.” —Wilfred M. McClay, Woodrow Wilson International Center As I’ve noted, the central thesis of Modern Monetary Theory is that a government that borrows in its own currency can never default because it can simply keep printing money to pay its debts. Hyperinflation, says MMT, can’t happen because as …

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A Closer Look at the “Panacea”

People whose political opinions put them well to the left of the center of American opinion will naturally find themselves sympathetic to many of the policy proposals put forth by the Democrat Presidential candidates. People well to the right of center will naturally be hostile to those policies. But almost everyone, including those in the …

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Modern Monetary Madness

When I think about MMT—Modern Monetary Theory—I visualize an odious miscreation squatting in its squalid swamp for decades, waiting only for an opportunity to erupt from the scum and devour the world’s economies. Okay, maybe I should be taking my meds… MMT’s main postulate, and it’s only raison d’être, is that a government that borrows …

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Pittsburgh: Buy, Sell or Hold?

We’ve asked a group of the region’s leading financial experts to give their opinion on the following question: “If the Pittsburgh region were an investable security, what changes, if any, would you want to see before you advised your clients to invest?” Their answers follow. Linda Duessel, Federated Investors: Pittsburgh already is a “buy.” It’s …

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Future Breakthroughs for Heart Disease

“The coronary bypass operation stands as a monument to an almost total lack of understanding of causes, prevention, and effective management of [heart] disease.” —Charles T. McGee, MD. “It’s humbling to see medical dogma overturned.” —Bernadine Healy, MD, former Director, NIH, discussing the heart’s ability to heal itself Once it became clear that human heart …

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Is Coronary Bypass Surgery Obsolete?

“You will die with exactly the same heart muscle cells you came out of the womb with.” —Consulting cardiologist, speaking to Your Humble Blogger Having recently experienced the gruesome-car-crash known as coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery, I was naturally wondering why, instead of doing its best to kill an already very fragile patient, medical …

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The Amazing Human Heart

“Do-it-yourself cardiac bypass surgery: All you need is walking shoes.” —Harvard Medical School Doctors have believed forever that the human heart is so fragile and helpless that it can’t heal itself. The heart can only be improved after a heart attack, they believe, by putting the hapless patient through a car crash—excuse me, coronary artery …

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The Heart Can’t Heal—or Can It?

Having a heart attack was like having an elephant jump on my chest and sit there for six hours, then wander off into the night as though nothing had happened. Having sextuple CABG surgery was like being in a really bad car crash. As between the two, if you ask me, there isn’t much to …

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Opening the Medical Mind

“Health care’s political economy exists only for the disease. To the system, the person with the disease remains in obscurity.” —Justin Mutter, Center for Biomedical Ethics, UVA Every profession has its sacred cows. These are ideas, policies, practices, procedures and so on that have been anointed as the Gold Standard and thereafter can’t be questioned. Most of …

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The Attractiveness of the Peaceful Hopi Culture

What Robert Redford did—how does he think this stuff up?—was invite the CEOs of Peabody and the four utility companies, along with the two tribal chairmen (Peter McDonald from the Navajo and Abbott Sekaquaptewa from the Hopi) to come to Sundance for a “pow-wow.” And I mean an actual pow-wow. The big-shot CEOs and the …

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Earth Mother vs. Money

Abbott Sekaquaptewa and I were sitting precariously on the edge of a mesa, the dark desert spread out below us, the night sky overcast and black. Abbott told me that way back when the Hopi were protected by the Apache, the Hopi tribe was united—everyone hated the Apache and would have nothing to do with …

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An Evening with the Hopi Tribal Council

The Hopi tribe is governed by an American-style system of representative democracy more or less imposed on them by the Bureau of Indian Affairs back in 1936. In the days when I was dealing with Abbott, the Hopi Tribal Council consisted of about twenty representatives, each serving two-year terms. The representatives were elected from the …

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The Hopi’s Last Hope

My new friend, Abbott Sekaquaptewa, had walked me through the history of the Hopi tribe, beginning with their birth as children of the Earth Mother up to about AD 500, when the Hopi had hired a fierce Apache tribe to protect them. As I noted last week, although the Hopi owed their entire continued existence …

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Abbott Sekaquaptewa: The Man Who Asked for Help

One day, innocently sitting at my desk and annoying no one, I opened a long letter from a guy named Abbott Sekaquaptewa, who seemed to be the Chairman of the Hopi Indian Tribe (as they were known in those days). As I read through Abbott’s letter I became more and more befuddled. He seemed to …

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Responsible Investing Without the Hype: The Conclusion

We’ll finish up our examination of some of the challenges associated with responsible investing by looking at a few random issues. Good intentions don’t count in RI There are lots of areas of human endeavor where good intentions matter a lot, but RI isn’t one of them. In RI, good intentions, if not married to …

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Philosophical Issues Bedeviling Responsible Investing

We’ve reviewed many potential pitfalls that bedevil responsible investing, but now let’s turn to some of the more philosophical issues in the space. Try to ignore self-interested research in the RI sector. Almost every day, a financial or consulting firm publishes “research” purporting to show that this or that type of RI produces terrific outcomes. …

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Recession and the Fed

We’ve asked the region’s top wealth managers to respond to two questions: 1) If the current economic expansion lasts past July, it will be the longest in U.S. history. When do you expect the U.S. economy to enter into a recession? 2) After raising interest rates steadily for more than a year, the Federal Reserve …

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Traps Awaiting Unsuspecting RI Investors

Last week, we noted the tendency of the financial industry to take advantage of investors, including responsible investing (RI) investors. We also observed how this led to the epidemic of greenwashing: recharacterizing rather ordinary investments as RI investments. This week we’ll move beyond the greenwashing problem and look at other pitfalls for RI investors. Think …

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Responsible Investing Without the Hype

“ESG offers the chance of a fantastic rebranding for an unpopular [financial] industry, an excuse to crunch a lot of data and then charge for it, a great opportunity to bid for the huge pools of money held on behalf of public sector workers and charitable organizations … and most of all an opportunity for active …

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Reeling in the Big One

AONE made a grandiloquent gesture with his arm, saying, “These are all my paintings.” They were hung around the four walls of the giant loft and it looked to me like there might be a thousand of them. We circumnavigated the loft clockwise, pausing in front of each painting so AONE could explain the inspiration …

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A Tale of Two Lofts

The Exotic Eastern European Film Director (EEEFD) and I climbed out of our cab and rang the bell at the studio of the Internationally Famous Artist (IFA). The IFA gave us a tour of his studio, which was eye-opening. Even in those days, Soho was a heart-stoppingly expensive neighborhood, but the IFA owned a huge, …

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AONE and Me

“Could it be our boy’s done something rash?” —Bertholt Brecht, “Die Moritat von Mackie Messer,” or “Mack the Knife,” translated and sanitized by Marc Blitzstein, with thanks to Bobby Darin If you want to cause a lot of trouble for yourself, you could do worse than to sit down and write a screenplay. I know precisely nothing …

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