Monday, December 29, 2008

Open Question

Can the financial leadership in the United States be trusted to make sound decisions regarding the allocation of resources?

49 comments:

  1. No.

    I suggest everyone read Kunstler's article about 2009. It is long but interesting (at least for the type of person who would visit this Bubblemeter blog)

    I am in agreement with Kunstler.

    http://jameshowardkunstler.typepad.com/

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  2. You're question is inherently flawed. You posit that there is actual "financial leadership" in this country.

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  3. If by financial leadership you mean Wall Street than the answer after the Internet and housing bubbles is HELL NO!

    If you're talking about Obama's stimulus plans for investment in infrastructure, environmental technologies and health care, than the answer is they can't do any worse.

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  4. I enjoyed Kunstlers forecast for 2009, though I found it to be more of a fantasy fiction than a forecast. I contemplated turning my lower level into a water and food storage center that I would stock and rotate new supplies in until such a disaster ensued. I also thought that I may fill my bathtubs so that I could have water to wash myself because my stored water would be far too important to use for hygene.

    One of his points brought me back to reality: When money in the system is lost, Helicopter Ben will print and drop it to replace the lost. Wheeeeeeee! God I love this country!

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  5. "One of his points brought me back to reality: When money in the system is lost, Helicopter Ben will print and drop it to replace the lost. Wheeeeeeee! God I love this country!"


    Throwing money from helicopters has a net effect of devaluing money... which leads to inflation.

    Inflation is coming. If it doesn't, you may wish you had started stockpiling food after all.

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  6. I fully expect that they will helicopter in money until the debt has been devalued so much that the debtors are no longer under water.

    The people that are holding the debt will be most upset with us.

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  7. " fully expect that they will helicopter in money until the debt has been devalued so much that the debtors are no longer under water."

    That doesn't work because if dollars are devalued that much, it will cost $1,000 for a loaf of bread.

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  8. Heh - I didn't say it would work - I just said they would try. There are all sorts of bad side effects that could occur if they did try this and the 1000$ loaf of bread is possible.

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  9. "Anon said

    That doesn't work because if dollars are devalued that much, it will cost $1,000 for a loaf of bread."

    Jesus people are stupid when it comes to inflation. Inflation is not just a rise in prices for goods, it is a rise in incomes as well. It may take a bit longer for incomes to rise, but there is no way bread, rice, or any similar could cost $1,000 if people dont have the ability to pay for it.

    So if bread costs $1,000, that means incomes are high enough to support that price. At the same time, if bread cost $1,000 the median SFH would cost about $400,000,000. This would of course help out every homeowner who had a mortgage which was like $400,000, and screw every renter since rents are now $50,000 a month.

    I said it before, and Ill say it again, THINK IT THROUGH!

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  10. "Jesus people are stupid when it comes to inflation. "

    I agree. I point to the fact that you don't understand that unemployment is very high and RISING into the foreseeable future, as an example of how stupid someone could be.

    Yeah, salaries are going to rise along with prices.... uh huh. PEOPLE DON'T HAVE JOBS! But the Fed is printing money anyway, so inflation is inevitable. Stupid.

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  11. Hmm, no job, but the cost of food and everything else is high and climbing.

    I know; people will just draw money with paper and crayons! Want to get a cheesburger at Hooters in Fairfax? Make your own $100 bill! Want to pay the monthly rent on your townhouse in Culpepper? Make your own stack of $1000 bills!

    But you don't have a job, so it looks like you'll need to steal the paper and crayons.

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  12. The very act of printing trillions of money expands the money supply, and *by definition* is inflationary.

    The nightmare scenario is something akin to what they had in Weimar Germany. They had hyperinflation and massive unemployment. Yes, people weren't working, but it didn't matter - printing massive amounts of money fueled the hyperinflation.

    It would be simplistic to try and draw too many parallels to Weimar Germany, as there are many differences. Yet, the danger is that as the Fed prints trillions in an attempt to stimulate the economy, that some sort of super or hyper inflation may occur.

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  13. Dear dumbass,

    Please note that the incoming federal government adminsitration said they would do everything they can to create 2,500,000 jobs as quickly as possible.

    Then, a few weeks later, the number was revised to 3,000,000. Why?

    BECAUSE UNEMPLOYMENT IS RAMPANT!

    Yeah, everyone will just get a pay raise. Uh huh.

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  14. "Anon said...

    agree. I point to the fact that you don't understand that unemployment is very high and RISING into the foreseeable future, as an example of how stupid someone could be.

    Yeah, salaries are going to rise along with prices.... uh huh. PEOPLE DON'T HAVE JOBS! But the Fed is printing money anyway, so inflation is inevitable. Stupid."

    Wow, you are getting more moronic by the minute. We had a great hypothetical discussing going on, and you muck it up by pointing to real world conditions re: job loss. Or maybe this wasnt hypothetical, maybe your $1,000 loaf of bread was a real time call?

    Job loss and the resulting DEFLATION is a separate issue entirely, lets get back to the inflaiton argument for a minute.

    If bread costs $1,000 (your example), how much do those employed make in order to pay for it?

    If they make that much, what will that do to the price of oil, gold, housing, etc?

    THINK IT THROUGH...

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  15. "Jack Russell said
    The very act of printing trillions of money expands the money supply, and *by definition* is inflationary.

    The nightmare scenario is something akin to what they had in Weimar Germany. They had hyperinflation and massive unemployment. Yes, people weren't working, but it didn't matter - printing massive amounts of money fueled the hyperinflation."

    YES - EXACTLY - someone here "gets it" someone here understands how inflation truly works. Jack Russell, please stick around and help me educate this idiot anon who doesnt understand how $1,000 loaves of bread would spell doom for renters and a boon for most of those homedebtors who are underwater.

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  16. "THINK IT THROUGH..."

    You're an idiot. I "Muck it up" with reality? You're mucking it up with stupidity and fantasy.

    We have compressive deflation resulting from abanondment of 'investments' like derivatives, futures, STOCKS (have you comprehended the reality of the markets lately?), etc.

    Yes, compressive deflation. Look it up. It is the primary reason for the plummeting price of oil - not to mention that no one is MAKING goods or SHIPPING goods in significant volume any longer.

    (plastic is made from oil, EVERYTHING is made of plastic, then most of the plastic stuff is shipped to North America on ships and planes - both of which burn oil)

    Here is a reference to Sizzle-Lien's blog (got popcorn?) which demonstrates that international shipping is dead. IT IS DEAD.

    The people who make our crap aren't making crap and they aren't shipping crap to us. It's over.

    Now, we have compressive deflation coupled with massive (and rising) unemployment. The government responds by 'printing' unprecedented volumes of 'money', which has the net effect of devaluing money.

    So the value of 'money' decreases, therefore it takes more of it to purchase the same goods or services. Get it? That is a fundamental aspect of inflation. Look into it. As you said, it wouldn't be so bad if everyone had a job and we all had 100% pay increases every year. But there you go mucking it up with stupidity again.

    Now, back to unemployment; WE DON'T MAKE STUFF IN THE USA ANY LONGER. Manufacturing is effectively extinct in North America. Yes, its true. Farming is different, we have INDUSTRIALIZED FARMS which require very little labor relative the output. (Oh, and how much oil does it take to get red tomatoes or a loaf of bread to your table these days? Lots.)

    Geezus, I'm the anon who brought up hyper-inflation in post-WWI Europe a few days ago, and now you're pointing to a post that regugitates my thoughts and telling me that I need look to that as an example of what is right? You're an ass.

    Your fundamental problem is that you're looking at this as a "renter vs. homeowner" issue. It isn't. We're all hosed.

    I think you're in denial.

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  17. Keep flailing about - just if you have time, please answer this simple question:

    If bread costs $1,000, how much do those employed make in order to pay for it?

    If they make that much, what will that do to the price of oil, gold, housing, etc?

    THINK IT THROUGH...

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  18. Dear dolt,

    In the 1930's, in Europe, prices weren't printed on restaurant menus.

    Why? Because inflation was so severe that the price of the food you ate was likely to be higher than the price of the same food when you ordered it.

    Then a little thing called WWII happened and it ended hyper-inflation in Europe and it ended Great Depression in the USA.

    It's a fact. Look into it.

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  19. Dear dolt,

    I suspect that you're stuck in traffic at the moment; Lemming that you are. So I'll continue for your edification.

    "Hyperinflation occurs when a government inflates the currency (necessarily a fiat currency) as a matter of expediency to meet some political objective. The objective is usually one requiring massive deficit spending. It is a futile exercise to try calculating values for currencies in hyper-inflationary environments; they may change from moment to moment. The question for currency managers becomes, 'How much longer will this untenable situation be allowed to continue?'

    Perhaps the Reichsmark of Germany is the most widely known example of hyperinflation in currency. After World War I, a conference of European nations drew up terms..... blah.... blah....Using the crushing depression that followed as an excuse to print more fiat paper money, the currency printing presses in Germany never stopped running. Currency depriciated hourly. Restaurant patrons began to pay in advance because menu prices rose faster than they could eat. As the story goes, one wage-earner trudged home with his wheelbarrow full of Reichsmarks; his daily pay. He stopped at a meat market, and, parking the wheelbarrow outside, went in to check the price of sausage. Leaving the store, he found that he had been robbed. The thief had dumped the money on the sidewalk and made off with the wheelbarrow."

    From: "The International Guide to Foreign Currency Management."

    Hey, I bet I know what you're thinking: You are thinking "But its different this time!"

    You're partially right. There are no printing presses involved this time.

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  20. UMM Anon at 1:23 and 2:47 - thank you for providing a recitation of facts that I have long since known. Your points, albeit in no way relevant to my central issue are well taken.

    Now back to my central point which you continue to dance, skirt and thrash about but refuse to answer:

    If bread costs $1,000, how much do those employed make in order to pay for it?

    If they make that much, what will that do to the price of oil, gold, housing, etc?

    THINK IT THROUGH...

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  21. "If they make that much, what will that do to the price of oil, gold, housing, etc?"

    dolt, things happen in cycles. Do you know what a "cycle" is? No, it isn't a Harley Davidson.

    We are in compressive deflation now.

    Inflation is on the horizon. It will supplant deflation.

    Prices on everything are set to go through the roof when unemployment reaches over 10% (that's massive)

    Wait 'til Joe six pack needs a new vehicle, can't get a loan, can't afford to pay cash for the $20,000 price tag on a used 1992 Ford F-130 pickup, can't afford $7 gasoline, doesn't have a job, and doesn't have any opportunity for work within 50 miles of his exurban split level ranch with the dog run out back. Oh, and natural gas and electric utilities are wicked-expensive too.

    Got Ammo?

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  22. "If bread costs $1,000, how much do those employed make in order to pay for it?"

    Who are these "employed" people you keep referring to?

    Marketing specialists? Nope. Advertising execs? No. Executive recruiters? Not many of those left. Travel agents? Dodo birds. Lawyers? maybe. Big name firms downtown (no, not downtown Manassass; downtown Washington) are starting to rumble about layoffs.

    I know who you are referring to: Web designers and web "engineers", right?! Nope, nope. Not going to be many of those. They're all in India now anyway, aren't they?

    Oh, I know; AUTOWORKERS! Oh wait. Nope. How about Airline pilots? Oh, well, airlines depend upon oil, and 20% of the population that used to fly around are now unemployed, and jet fuel costs $1000 per gallon, thus the business model for airlines is toast.

    No really, who is going to be working? Thats the real question. Wall street types?

    Hey, have you heard? INVESTMENT BANKS ARE EXTINCT. They are all gone. So will the investment bankers be working? (Hint: the answer is not yes)

    Tell me: who is going to be working? You?

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  23. OK - keep flailing, but lets try again, in a slightly modified form:

    If bread costs $1,000, how much money do people HAVE in order to pay for it?

    If they HAVE enough to support $1,000 bread prices, what will be the prices of oil, gold, housing, etc?

    THINK IT THROUGH...

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  24. "If bread costs $1,000, how much money do people HAVE in order to pay for it?"

    You're not getting it.

    Why were bread lines prevalent in the 1920s and 1930s? Why did millions of people line up and stand there just to get a cup of thin soup and a slice of stale bread?

    How much money did people HAVE in the biggest economic downturn prior to this year?

    (Did you get that? In 2008, we are on the same order of magnitude as 1938)

    I get the distinct impression that you are fucked in terms of your personal financial situation. Good luck.

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  25. If bread costs $1,000, how much money do people HAVE in order to pay for it?

    If they HAVE enough to support $1,000 bread prices, what will be the prices of oil, gold, housing, etc?

    Flail flail flail away my friend!

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  26. "If they HAVE enough to support $1,000 bread prices, what will be the prices of oil, gold, housing, etc?"

    Wow. You're a dumbass.

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  27. They would make the same if bread was $1000. Someone without a job, STILL makes nothing per hour, even if bread is $2000 per loaf.

    There no more flailing!

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  28. Bread cannot cost 1,000 if no one has the abilitity to pay for it.

    Actually, if it cost 1,000 to produce, and no one had the money to pay for it, we would have a market failure supply would not intersect with demand.

    In this case, there would need to be a substitute good since no one can afford bread. Rice, corn, whatever. I suspect though, that under your scenario where the prices of everything (except homes belonging to underwater homeowners) rose, rice and corn would cost 700, 800, etc.

    But then again, if no one has the money to pay for that either, then what? We are back at square one again. THINK IT THROUGH...

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  29. Actually I will think it through for you. Assume the basic conditions of life cost 1,000 and everyone is unemployed.

    If you are unemployed, you may become a day laborer, or do a task for someone in exchange for $$$. Now if a loaf of bread will cost $1,000, what price will you set for your labor maybe $5,000 a day. The employer will gladly pay you that because if there is inflation, by definition there is gobs and gobs of worthless money circulating through the economic system.

    Further, say you own a house you bought in 2005 before the hyperinflation. You owe $400K (worth only 300K), and you pay $2,500 a month on it. Thanks to the massive inflaiton, you can now pay your fixed monthly mortgage payment in a day. Note, you still struggle to pay the utility bill which is 5,000 a month, and the taxes which are 5,000 a month, but at least the note payment is not an issue.

    Further, lets say you decide to sell the house. There is some other guy out there who has some skill and gets say 20 odd jobs at 10,000 a day (200K a month). Maybe since he is the new fat cat in this mad max society, he has socked away 50K a month for the last year (i.e. he has 600K in worthless cash on hand). He is tired of paying rent at 30,000 a month so he wants to buy your place. Whats he gonna pay for it?

    Well we dont know for sure, but it will be some price MORE than 400K, and THATS THE WHOLE POINT I AM TRYING TO MAKE!!!!!

    Remember, this whole thing started based on this exchange:

    "I fully expect that they will helicopter in money until the debt has been devalued so much that the debtors are no longer under water."

    That doesn't work because if dollars are devalued that much, it will cost $1,000 for a loaf of bread."

    So you were wrong when you said it "doesnt work". It absolutely does work, albeit with severe social consequences. War with a creditor nation is possible, massive unemployment is likely, civil strife likely, a complete collapse of the financial system is likely, yet desipte all that the one ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY is that if bread cost $1,000 each and every single underwater homeowner is bailed out.

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  30. "a complete collapse of the financial system is likely"

    The basis of your argument is that people will work for pay, and people will bank or save the money they earn. You also assume that employers will withdraw money from bank accounts or savings to pay employees.

    Then you say "a complete collapse of the financial system is likely."

    Yet you're too dense to see that these two pillars of your argument are mutually exclusive.

    When money has no value, people won't "work" for money. Bread will be handed out for free by the government, and the production cost of a loaf of bread very well could exceed $1000. (the cost of which is borne entirely by the government.) Get it yet?

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  31. "homeowner is bailed out."

    By the way, I'm a long-time howmeowner and I don't think homeowners are going to fair any better in the coming storm.

    Another premise of your argument is that you owe $400,000 on a house, yet the future value of the house will be a few million (multiples of $1,000,000) because of rampant inflation. Possibly.

    But what you fail to grasp is that if you sell the house for $1,000,000 and "make" $600,000 in the process... what is that $600,000 going to buy you? Six hundred (600) loaves of bread. That's all you get when inflation and unemployment run rampant simultaneously.

    I suppose you could load the bread into your mini-van take a drive on the deserted highways and byways of Duhmerhica?

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  32. Well nobody is really going to do well in the coming storm, but some people are going to do better than others..

    In my view, high inflation would essentially mean that an underwater homeowner would no longer be underwater. Nobody claimed that homeowners would be made rich by this. Merely that the homes could be sold for more than is owed on them, which eliminates one of the reasons that homes are going into foreclosure.

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  33. "Another premise of your argument is that you owe $400,000 on a house, yet the future value of the house will be a few million (multiples of $1,000,000) because of rampant inflation. Possibly."

    THERE IT IS - THATS WHAT I WAS LOOKING FOR A MERE ADMISSION THAT IF BREAD WAS $1,000 EACH AND EVERY SINGLE UNDERWATER HOMEOWNER WOULD NO LONGER BE UNDERWATER.

    See how much easier that could have been had you admitted you were wrong when you said

    "That doesn't work because if dollars are devalued that much, it will cost $1,000 for a loaf of bread."

    Next time out just recant early and save yourself all the hassle!

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  34. "Jack Russell said

    In my view, high inflation would essentially mean that an underwater homeowner would no longer be underwater. Nobody claimed that homeowners would be made rich by this. Merely that the homes could be sold for more than is owed on them, which eliminates one of the reasons that homes are going into foreclosure."

    YES - God bless you Jack Russel - you "get it".

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  35. "Collapse of the financial system is likely"

    "Homeowners will sell their homes and no longer be under water."

    If the financial system is dead, how is anyone going to sell anything? You still don't get it. Banking and finance are dead, the government is propping up the citizenry by keeping them at subsistence level, and you are going to "sell" your house?

    Home sales have already fallen off a cliff, and all are in agreement that everything is going to get worse from this point forward.

    Yet you are clinging to this notion that you are somehow not "underwater" on your place in Arlington? And you post and cross-post in this thread and the one above, having an agreement with yourself under various personalities, to try to reassure yourself that you aren't screwed?

    You're screwed worse than you know, because you're too stupid to understand where we're headed from here.

    Good luck with not being "underwater" on your mortgage. Perhaps you should be more concerned with how Arlington isn't going to become a target for rioting Virginians? The government is already planning to block the Potomac river bridges next month to keep you out of DC. What if blocking those bridges to keep Virginians out becomes a regular occurance? What if they don't reopen the bridges? What becomes of Arlington then?

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  36. "Merely that the homes could be sold for more than is owed on them, which eliminates one of the reasons that homes are going into foreclosure."

    This is the epitome of stupidity. At least you tried to make it seem as if someone else was responsible for writing it. (but you failed)

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  37. Back to flailing about ehh?

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  38. I wish you folks could use some sort of identity when posting here instead of just posting anonymously. You don't have to use your real name or anything. Just pick name/url and make up something unique that nobody else is using. And you can change it any time you like, so it isn't like you are tied to it or anything.

    I feel like I am in a room where everyone else is wearing a paper bag over their head, and it is hard to tell who is saying what.

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  39. "Back to flailing about ehh?"

    and

    "I wish you folks could use some sort of identity when posting here instead of just posting anonymously."

    Were written by the same anxious Arlington mortgage-holder.

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  40. "Back to flailing about ehh?"

    and

    "I wish you folks could use some sort of identity when posting here instead of just posting anonymously."

    Were written by the same anxious Arlington mortgagee.

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  41. Oh, please. That's another problem with anonymous posting...

    And for the record, we have no mortgage on our house, and we have no debt, we don't live in Arlington, and I don't feel particularly anxious. Just telling you what I think we have in store for us.

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  42. "That's another problem with anonymous posting.."

    Yes, "Jack Russell" isn't anonymous and everything "Jack Russell" writes here is true.

    By the way, my name is John and I own a substantial number of properties on Martha's Vineyard.

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  43. "What if they don't reopen the bridges? What becomes of Arlington then?"

    Arlington will hold the Pentagon, Defense Communications Agency, and the National Science Foundation hostage.

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  44. "Arlington will hold the Pentagon, Defense Communications Agency, and the National Science Foundation hostage."

    Anyone who works or has worked for DoD knows that the Pentagon is not the center of DoD activity in the United States. Look into: USNORTHCOM and CENTCOM for starters. Where are they located?

    DCA, DISA, and others are all relocating Ft. Meade in Maryland by 2011.

    NSF? That, you can keep. Knock yourself out. There is more important and relevant scientific activity in garages around the country now than there ever will be at NSF. Maybe Obama will change NSFs role dramtically. If not, who cares?

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  45. Well, the Pentagon stands in what used to be Washington DC until Virginia ceded from the Union in an attempt to preserve slavery as a system of economics and as a way of life.

    Nice move, VA.

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  46. Re: Inflation

    If anyone here wants to see the ugly side of real life hyper-inflation suffering please be so kind and vacation in ZIMBABWE for a week or two.

    The poor Zimbabweans dream of bread being a mere $1,000 a loaf, since the price of bread is higher than that at the bakeries and supermarkets. Meanwhile the supermarkets and bakeries are out of bread since no one wants to sell bread at government price control prices (the price is less than the cost of ingredients.)

    While you are in Zimbabwe tell us if the employers are raising the wages of their workers daily (something I doubt) and if the banks there have removed currency controls preventing depsitors from taking out more than a day's pay per day.

    Please PLEASE report back to us concerning how things are going on in Zimbabwe and who is the winner in the hyper-inflation scenario, the renters, the home owners, both or neither.

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  47. "Anon said...

    Well, the Pentagon stands in what used to be Washington DC until Virginia ceded from the Union in an attempt to preserve slavery as a system of economics and as a way of life.

    Nice move, VA."

    Not exactly. Its true Arlington & Alexandria were part of the original "ten miles square" plat of DC, however their retrocession back into VA was in 1846-47, well before the civil war and VA sucession from the union.

    http://oha.alexandriava.gov/archaeology/decades/ar-decades-1840.html

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  48. Your link to an "alexandria.gov" website is hilarious! Here is a less biased perspective on the history of Alexandria:

    During the 1830s, the District's southern county of Alexandria went into economic decline, due in part to heavy competition with the port of Georgetown, which was further inland and on the C&O Canal.[16] At the time, Alexandria was a major market in the American slave trade, but rumors circulated that abolitionists were attempting to end slavery in the nation's capital.[17] Partly to avoid an end to the lucrative slave trade, a referendum to ask for the retrocession of Alexandria passed in 1846. On July 9 of that year, Congress agreed to return all the District's territory south of the Potomac River back to the Commonwealth of Virginia.[16]

    It had _EVERYTHING_ to do with slavery as an economic system and as a way of life. Arlington and Alexandria essentially ceded from the union prior to the rest of the confederacy. The fact that VA itself hadn't formally left the Union (for the same reasons) is immaterial. To argue otherwise is an attempt to perpetrate revisionist history.

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  49. "It had _EVERYTHING_ to do with slavery as an economic system and as a way of life."

    I Agree.

    "Arlington and Alexandria essentially ceded from the union prior to the rest of the confederacy."

    I Agree.

    "The fact that VA itself hadn't formally left the Union (for the sme reasons) is immaterial."

    I said not exactly. You said they "used to be Washington DC until Virginia ceded from the Union". I said "not exactly" because the dates were wrong. Exactly would mean the dates would line up - they dont.

    Bottom line is they did secede in large part due to slavery. Alexandria had one of the largest slave trading markets in the world back then. However, all I am trying to point out, for the mere sake of historical accuracy, is that they were retroceded in 1846-47, NOT when VA ceded from the union.

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