Creative Capital

The Changing of the Clan

That evening, after our tour of Arran and another whisky-soaked evening, Charles walked me outside Strabane. He was carrying, for some reason, a large bowl of eggs he’d taken from the refrigerator. “These eggs,” he told me, “are very special Isle-of-Arran eggs from our own chickens. Handled properly, they’re virtually indestructible. Wait here.” Baffled by …

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The Mystery Deepens

My inauspicious arrival on the Isle of Arran seemed to have perturbed Lady Jean Fforde not at all. “It’s the smell, dearie,” she said, pounding my back like a jackhammer as I retched into the boxwood. “You’ll be used to it soon enough.” And she was right. Three whiskies later (drunk neat, the Scots never …

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Lady Jean

As I dutifully did every morning, I listened to my overnight voicemails. My boss was saying something like this: “Stop what you’re doing and get yourself to the Isle of Arran, and don’t dilly-dally!” Huh? I’d recently returned from an ill-fated trip to the Hopi Tribe in Arizona and I was a bit touchy on …

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Why the Extremes Are Gaining

“The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.” —“The Second Coming” by W. B. Yeats Homo sapiens have lived on the earth for, let’s say, 350,000 years (since we separated from homo erectus). For 349,800 of those years, humans were desperately poor, diseased and ignorant. In the last 200 …

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The Rest of the “Great” Democracies

“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.” —“The Second Coming” by William Butler Yeats Last week we observed that our own mother country, the United Kingdom (redubbed the Dis-United Kingdom) is crumbling before our very eyes. But the DUK is hardly alone. Let’s take a quick look at …

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A Tour of the World’s Crumbling Democracies

“Around the world, radicalization is making coalition and consensus much harder” —Gideon Rachman in the Financial Times Last week I discussed the abdication of the political middle in the U.S. in favor of radical leftist, rightist and populist ideas. Instead of (as in the past) fringe ideas playing the role of informing public debate and …

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The Middle Abdicates

“I think the West has forgotten what democracy means.” —Vera Lengsfeld, holder of the Federal Cross of Merit, Germany’s highest civilian honor Roughly a million years ago I sat down one day and, in a fit of pique, wrote a long essay entitled, “The Essential Liberal.” That essay was published in a journal headquartered in …

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Responsible Investing

We are observing how one of the world’s most successful investors—the New Zealand Super Fund—manages its capital, and considering whether we might not mimic some of what the Fund has been doing. The idea is to improve our own returns both on an absolute basis and on a risk-adjusted basis. Here are two more strategies …

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Hong Kong Will Mean China’s Demise

“China’s disintegration is now under way.” —Arthur Waldron, Lauder Professor of International Relations, University of Pennsylvania Following the Tiananmen Square fiasco, Beijing “knew” a few things it hadn’t known before. Beijing knew that offering its citizens modest economic and personal freedoms was dangerous to the health of the Communist Party. When you offered such freedoms, …

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The Waning Mao-Xi Dynasty

“Without democracy, China will rise no farther.” —Jiwei Ci, University of Hong Kong The history of China is long and violent and, more than anything else, it is an endless story of history repeating itself. Dynasty follows dynasty, beginning in 1250 BC with the Shang Dynasty and ending with the Mao-Xi Dynasty, which is still …

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It Turns Out Hong Kong Is Different

“‘One country, two systems’ was always little more than a useful fiction, but… China has shown just how unrealistic the idea ultimately was.” —Rodger Baker, Stratfor As my longest-suffering readers know—I have been saying it since 1997 and putting it in writing since 2003—the Chinese Communist Party is doomed. I’ve written about it in two books …

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The Brits Blew It in Hong Kong

“[China] looks increasingly like it has reached a dead end.” —Frank Dikötter, Professor, University of Hong Kong As we learned last week, from 1898 until 1997 Britain owned two of the three regions of Greater Hong Kong—in perpetuity—while China owned the third region, subject to a 99-year lease to Britain. Yet, in 1997, all of …

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The Worst of All Possible Worlds, Conclusion

“How do I loathe thee? Let me count the ways. I loathe thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach… I loathe thee with the breath, Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose, I shall but loathe thee better after death.” —What Browning would say about Fedecbboj (central …

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Stop the Insanity!

“We recall not too long ago when extraordinary monetary policies were reserved for recessions or financial panics.” —Lead editorial, The Wall Street Journal Whenever I pull out the long knives for our friends at Fedecbboj (central bankers at the Fed, the ECB, and Bank of Japan), some of my gentle readers inevitably send me notes reading more or …

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The Worst of All Possible Worlds

“Tout est pour le mieux dans le meilleur des mondes possibles. [All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.]” —Voltaire, “Candide” In the novella “Candide,” the cockeyed optimist Dr. Pangloss attempts to imbue his young mentee with Pangloss’s own incurable optimism. Candide does his best to remain hopeful, but as he travels …

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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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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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