Friday, September 15, 2006


The Dollar Bear blog is on the move. I'll be chief among the many voices taking part in the joyous cacaphony at the Desidooru Saloon, otherwise known as Daily Reckoning's blog site. It's my privilege to join such distinguished company, and I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I will. I already have a couple of posts over there, but I also have a little bit of R&R in my immediate future, so my posting in earnest won't get underway for a few days yet. The Dollar Bear archives will remain on this site for a while, but for new posts, please join me at my new online home.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

On empire

OK, now that I'm back from my day job having duly participated in an aforementioned ritual of national self-pity, allow me to earn back karma points with some recommended reading.

Bill Bonner shares some 9/11 reflections on empire in the Daily Reckoning, winding up to this conclusion:

And so, today, while other publications may carp and complain about the incompetence and stupidity of the president and his neo-con advisors, we do not join in, for we believe that the U.S. Empire needs to be taken down a notch and that our rulers have merely found a novel way to do it, turning a rag-tag bunch of terrorists into a world-beating brand...and the rest of the world into anti-Americans.

I truly aspire to Bonner's Zen-like attitude; no outrage committed by the Empire seems to rattle him. But for those of us who still mourn the passing of the Republic, there's more good reading in a piece by Ira Chernus (with introduction by Tom Engelhardt). Chernus comes to a rather similar conclusion as Bonner, but from a different direction, all the while noting that America's imperial decline was well underway by the time Team Bush arrived on the scene:

Their unilateralism and militarism accelerated to near warp speed the decline of U.S. power and influence around the world. Every military blow or threatened blow only multiplied American enemies; every shock-and-awe action only created more opposition, even from increasingly standoffish allies. In the years to come, for an economically weakened "last superpower," there will be more and more occasions, on more and more fronts, when the U.S. will meet its match and have to back down. None of these will spell doom for us. But in context of the national insecurity state, they're likely to be framed as apocalyptic defeats, harbingers of the end time itself, and, above all, good reason to fight back blindly with all our might.

Seldom is one article posted/linked at Lew Rockwell, Antiwar, and the Future of Freedom Foundation's daily email on the same day. Good stuff.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Commodities boom just starting?

Yes, it's only anecdotal evidence, but it's still another sign that the current commodities boom remains closer to its beginning than to its end: Doug French at reports thin attendance at the Las Vegas Hard Assets conference.

The original gold and uranium bug James Dines described attendance as "sparse" and remembered the days when it was standing room only. "The show is not as zippy as I thought it would be," silver guru David Morgan said during his presentation.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

9/11 reflections

I suppose I can't let the five-year anniversary of 9/11 pass wtihout saying something -- if for no other reason than (I'll spare you the details) it began a chain of events that resulted in the blog you're reading right now.

Actually, I'll let Early Warning Report's Richard Maybury do the talking for me here. He's begun a project at his Chaostan website addressing the question "Why do they hate us?" Those of you familiar with Maybury's ouvre will find the material familiar, but others might find it an eye-opener. I've held forth in rather blunt terms on the phenomenon of terrorism elsewhere recently.

Suffice to say I'm not looking forward to taking part in 9/11 anniversary coverage, in which my profession will act as enabler for a nation wallowing in self-pity -- a wounded, helpless, pathetic giant, and not the great country it once was and still could be.

As housing goes, so goes the S&P?

Buried in this commentary at MarketWatch is a fascinating tidbit: The S&P 500 moves in lockstep with the National Association of Home Builders' Housing Index -- lagging by about 12 months. And over the last 12 months, the NAHB Housing Index has plummeted by half.

No, correlation is not causation. But it's eerie.

Hat tip George Ure.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Inflation or deflation?

On one thing, we contrarians agree: The U.S. economy can't continue stumbling along as it has indefinitely. Something has to give; there are too many structural imbalances. But how will it play out? Will it be inflationary or deflationary? I'm just a humble journalist (albeit one of the few who recognizes reality), but Doug Casey states the inflationary case pretty convincingly in his free biweekly e-letter What We Now Know:

Given the choice between (A) a dead housing market and scorched-earth depression in the U.S and (B) a collapsing currency, which at least has the virtue of reducing the real cost of paying off all those Treasury bonds, I’m forced to believe the U.S. government will choose (B) and sacrifice the dollar.

But if anyone sees the opposing view stated equally well, by all means let me know!

Monday, September 04, 2006

One-two punch

Allow me to revise and extend my remarks of a few days ago, in which I said the collapse of the housing bubble had now permeated the public consciousness. What's permeated the public consciousness so far is that housing prices do not indefinitely rise all out of proportion to the cost of living. Bill Bonner at the Daily Reckoning cites a Business Week article on the bloodbath to come when the option ARM mortgages reset. This has not yet become conventional wisdom. It will, instead, be the second part of a one-two punch that reality is dealing to the housing market.

Iraq progress watch

Never mind the carnage, which is ongoing and horrific. A more revealing measure of where things stand is that plans for the Americans to hand over control of the Iraqi army to Iraqis (I thought Iraq had regained its sovereignty already, but never mind) has been delayed. Again. One blogger suggests the problem is that we're not really talking about the Iraqis getting command of their army, but only of operations involving small units of men.

The real test of when Team Bush trusts Iraqis to run their own affairs is when it allows them to have substantial quantities of tanks, artillery, and air power. I'm not holding my breath.

(Thanks to Juan Cole.)

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Can we talk?

Now that Team Bush has begun yet another PR blitz to reinforce support for its Middle East democracy project (by demonizing their critics and scaring the bejeezus out of the rubes, natch), it’s time to lay out a simple fact to which many people evidently are blind: Terrorism does not pose an existential threat to the United States.

You know how people say if such-and-such had occurred during World War II, “we’d all be speaking German today?” Try applying it to the present situation. It’s preposterous. Islamic fundamentalists can never conquer us, occupy us, and make our women cover their heads. Not going to happen. (For one thing, the populace in parts of the South and West are well-armed and will use their arms to defend themselves; this is one of the purposes of the Second Amendment.) Even if, God forbid, terrorists set off the proverbial suitcase nuke in a major city, the United States as we know it would not cease to exist. No, the true threat to the United States as we know it comes from the politicians (of both parties) who overreact to acts of terrorism by stripping us of the liberties that, as the Founders made clear, are not something for government to give to us or take away from us, but rather are our birthright. They're the liberties that made this country the most free and prosperous in the history of the world, and make no mistake -- they are in grave danger.